Back in February I wrote a piece entitled John McCain: My Father’s Conservative, where I chided many Republicans who would rather see a Democrat elected rather than vote for McCain. Thanks be to God, the Republican Party has gotten past that, and done so in a glorious way. In the process it has seen McCain act as my father’s conservative once again, this time with the woman he chose as his running mate, Sarah Palin.
One of the central objectives in the assault that the far left unleashed (I don’t think Obama was on board with this, but he got stuck with it anyway) was to force McCain to drop her as a running mate. When the news of Bristol Palin’s pregnancy broke, they were sure she was toast both with McCain and with her Evangelical fans. (The fact that a woman had Evangelical fans should have told them their concept of what conservative Christianity is needed a reality check, but I digress…)
But what happened was just the opposite in every sense. The Evangelicals stuck with her. The publicity probably saved McCain’s cash-disadvantaged campaign $20-$30 million dollars to raise her name recognition, and bounced her up in the polls in the bargain. And most significantly, McCain stuck with her. He was unmoved, and Phase I of the firestorm was over with as the final gavel came down in St. Paul.
Since I characterised McCain as “my father’s conservative,” it makes me think of something my dad was involved in with some similarities to this. It took place in the early 1970’s, at our family business’ West Palm Beach office (right.)
The office had hired a young single woman as part of its “secretarial pool.” Not long after she came to work she discovered she was pregnant.
At that time, maternity leave was a decidedly iffy business, especially in a small company like Vulcan. To be single and pregnant–even in the backwash of the 1960’s–wasn’t a good position to be in at work either. The office thought it was a hoot.
My father wasn’t an easy man to amuse, however. He was in his rights to dismiss her. But he didn’t. Instead, he worked things out so she could have the baby and then come back to work so she could support the two of them. As far as he was concerned, she was a good employee, her child (and how he came about) was a private matter, and that was that. The office could have a laugh at someone else’s expense.
She had the baby, she kept it and raised her son by herself. She’s a Christian, raised him in church as well. And the support my father showed at the critical moment engendered loyalty. She worked for the company for many years and was Vulcan’s last non-officer Florida employee, only leaving when my mother was forced to close the office for economic reasons in the mid-1980’s.
My father was a very conservative man. But the company existed to do its business, and his decision reflected both his respect of her privacy and his focus on the task in front of him and everyone else.
I can’t help but think that McCain was thinking along the same lines when he didn’t allow Bristol Palin’s pregnancy to interfere with his decision to put her mother on the ticket. As it turns out, once again Evangelical churches have backed the decision up.
Like my parents’ employee, Bristol Palin is about to discover that sexual freedom and economic advancement don’t go together the way the left-wing Boomer ideal would have us believe. But this election hasn’t gone the Boomers way, right or left. We may end up with the first black (sort of) President, we may end up with the first woman Vice-President, but there isn’t a core Boomer in sight on either ticket. The rejection of the generation that is able to rule unless they actually do it is a telling indictment.
My father would surely find that amusing. It’s time to put his kind of conservative–and the woman he stuck with–in the White House.