The announcement of John McCain's VP pick has barely been circulated, and already the 'net is abuzz; Alaska's Republican governor Sarah Palin will grace the ticket.
Palin has five children, the youngest of whom has Down Syndrome. I find it disturbing that some members of the Democratic camp are seizing on the opportunity to point out a perceived contradiction in values, wherein Palin is slated to spend the next two months campaigning while she has an infant with special needs at home. I think on the issue of her values, this is the wrong approach to take.
Every child with Down Syndrome is different; their "special" needs are broad and varied. As the mother of a child with Down's, I realized in my son's infancy that caring for him was not terribly unlike caring for my other children. I was no martyr, I was not his desperate servant. I was his Mom.
If, as a party, we want to highlight any contradiction in "values" inherent in Palin's circumstances and convictions, we ought to focus on the fact that the Governor's party undermines the causes that are of most concern to the Down Syndrome and disabled communities. American health care, education, and equal opportunities for those with disabilities all suffer under Republican leadership. Parents struggle to pay medical bills for specialists, fight to obtain services their children need for successful mainstreaming in the classroom, and desire most profoundly that their children be embraced by society, rather than tolerated by it.
Anti-choice values hold that all life is precious, but here again we see the Pro-Life Republican modus operandi of revering life inside, but not beyond, the womb. Palin's party sees an individual life as a flower that must be allowed to take root and bloom. Democrats realize that for this flower to bloom, we must nurture it from a seedling, prune it as it ages, and expend the energy it takes to water, feed, and care for it. Some plants require special soil. Some demand particular nutrients. Some must be supported and trained to climb toward the sun. None that exist can be neglected, and no blanket solution will enable every plant to thrive.
In truth, no person or political figure can justly be called "compassionate" or "pro-life" while seeking to further policies that are antithetical to the idea that:
"The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped. "
(Hubert H. Humphrey)