Don Roach: Then and NOW
Then and NOW
What a difference twenty-four years and a political party make. In 2008, the National Organization for Women (NOW) has an interesting take on Sarah Palin’s selection as John McCain’s running mate. It is quite a departure from their role in 1984 campaign
2008: NOW statement on Sarah Palin (emphasis added):
Gov. Palin may be the second woman vice-presidential candidate on a major party ticket, but she is not the right woman. Sadly, she is a woman who opposes women’s rights, just like John McCain
The fact that Palin is a mother of five who has a 4-month-old baby, a woman who is juggling work and family responsibilities, will speak to many women. But will Palin speak FOR women? Based on her record and her stated positions, the answer is clearly No.
In a gubernatorial debate, Palin stated emphatically that her opposition to abortion was so great, so total, that even if her teenage daughter was impregnated by a rapist, she would “choose life” — meaning apparently that she would not permit her daughter to have an abortion. …
Finally, as the chair of NOW’s Political Action Committee, I am frequently asked whether NOW supports women candidates just because they are women. This gives me an opportunity to once again answer that question with an emphatic ‘No.’ We recognize the importance of having women’s rights supporters at every level but, like Sarah Palin, not every woman supports women’s rights.
How can a woman oppose “women’s rights”? Is she opposed to herself, or do Palin’s political views not fit within the narrow liberal confines of NOW? You decide.
1984: NOW pressures Mondale to select a “woman” VP:
Arriving at NOW’s national conference in Miami just two weeks before the convention, Mondale was “confronted with a sea of green lapel buttons bearing a terse message: ‘Woman VP Now.'” During his July 1, 1984 address, Mondale was interrupted not only by applause, but chants of “run with a woman” from an audience waving placards featuring the names of potential women running mates, including three-term New York Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro. As the New York Times noted, Mondale tried to assuage his audience:
Walter F. Mondale told the National Organization for Women today that he had “broken the barrier” of considering a woman to run for the Vice Presidency and that women would “never again” be barred from the nation’s highest offices.
That may have been sufficient to secure for Mondale the first-ever presidential endorsement from NOW, but it came at a price. With just three dissenting votes, the organization overwhelmingly approved a resolution insisting a woman be nominated for Vice President from the floor of the Democratic Convention if Mondale chose a man as his running mate.
Twenty-four years separate the first and second female vice-presidential candidates ever selected by the major U.S. political parties. One candidate was liberal, and the other is conservative. Nonetheless, they broke through the glass ceiling, and one would hope that the National Organization for Women would applaud both, regardless of whether it disagrees on one of various ideological points. Unfortunately, as with most “liberal” organizations trying to purport themselves as speaking for particular demographics, the organization is unable to separate its particular political preferences from something even more intrinsic: being a woman. And regardless of your political persuasion, McCain’s selection for a 44-year old female governor who has five children, should be celebrated. It’s too bad that NOW and other liberal groups cannot see beyond their political agenda and note this monumental breakthrough for women.