As I mentioned yesterday, I am going to focus this blog more on relating moral theory to action. The first action that I would recommend is to oppose acts that lead to the possibility of a Palin presidency. A person with good desires and true and complete beliefs would be adamantly opposed to any action that would put Palin a heartbeat away from being President.
The moral issue in this case is not that of Palin becoming President. The moral issue is that of a culture filled with people whose beliefs and desires are such that they are willing to support having Palin as President. To the degree that such people exist in our culture, to that degree our culture is not as good as it could be. In fact, to that degree, our culture is prone to doing things harmful to itself, and harmful to others.
Having said that, I immediately need to assert a couple of caveats that will be familiar to regular readers. There is a right to freedom of speech, and there is a right to freedom of religion (belief). However, these rights are not rights to immunity from criticism for what one says or what one believes. It is a right to freedom from violence. It is a right that permits others to say, "You are wrong," or even, "I will not vote for you or even do business with you." It is a right that prohibits others from picking up weapons and using them against the speaker or believer.
So, in speaking about reducing the number of people who would support having somebody like Palin in line to be President, I am speaking solely about using words and private actions for that purpose – respecting the rights to freedom of speech and of religion.
However, I am saying not only that it is permissible to aim words and private actions against those who would support having somebody like Palin in line to be President. I am saying that a good person would have reason to use those words and private actions against those who would support having somebody like Palin in line to be President.
Why would a good person oppose a Palin presidency?
Let's answer that question in terms of some of the buzz words that are being used in this campaign.
Change is not automatically good. It depends on what one is changing from, and what one is changing to. In this case, we are talking about changing from the leadership of George Bush. The idea is that we need to change to something better, rather than stay the same.
In this case, Governor Palin is George Bush's ideological twin sister. She is a substantially ignorant religious fundamentalist who believes that she don’t need no book-learning because all she has to do is pray to Jesus and Jesus will tell her what he wants her to do.
We have a couple of examples Palin's ignorance.
Example 1: In a statement on whether she supports having ‘under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance she said
If it was good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me and I'll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance
Yet, "Under God" it was not having a pledge of allegiance at all that was good enough for the founding fathers. The founding fathers created an oath of office for those who won federal office. However, their oath makes no mention of God. Even the tag line, "so help me God" is a voluntary addendum not found in the Constitution. "Under God" did not exist until 1950s – the McCarthy era.
Example 2: When asked about the mortgage crisis and the fate of mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Palin said they had, "gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers." However, the fact is that these were both private companies. They were costing the taxpayer nothing. The federal takeover, on the other hand, was a move that will almost certainly cost the taxpayer several billion dollars. Palin, as President, would have to deal with the mortgage crisis. However, she does not even know the principle players or what they do.
Now, the McCain campaign team is working hard to coach Palin on what to say, and keeping her well protected from displaying her ignorance until then. Of course, they cannot make Palin smart in just a few days. They want to teach her to be a parrot, to memorize a few key phrases that she will utter whenever she hears certain key words spoken by a reporter or audience member.
Palin's moral failing in this case is her arrogance. Palin, more than anybody, should know how ignorant she is and that the office if President is no place for somebody with her level of ignorance. I know a lot of people who do not know the story of ‘under God’ in the Pledge or the nature of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Yet, they also do not consider themselves to be vice-Presidential material. They have a better sense of responsibility than that. They have a sense of moral responsibility to the country that Palin does not have.
"Put America First"
One of the Republican slogans on this election is "Put America First." It is a part of a campaign that paints anybody who does not vote Republican as un-American, as somebody who puts America second (or lower) relative to some other concern.
However, when the McCain campaign team selected Palin, they did not "Put America First." They put winning the election first.
A parent who puts his child first will demonstrate his concern for his child by putting himself at risk for the sake of giving the child an advantage. This is in contrast to the parent who puts himself first. You know this parent because he is willing to put his child at risk when doing so has a chance of buying him an advantage.
McCain decided to put America at risk of having an arrogant idiot serve as President, and did so for the sake of buying an advantage among female voters in this election.
Once upon a time, McCain would not have done such a thing. Once upon a time, McCain clearly did put his country first, and was willing to take risks in its defense. However, that McCain does not seem to be among us anymore. That McCain is gone, and in his place we see somebody who does not care about the risks he puts America in, as long as he can win the election.
The question of whether or not to vote for Palin is a political question. The question of whether or not to be the type of person who would vote for Palin (or put her in line to be President) is a moral question. The latter is a question of moral character, of the type of person one is.
People who would agree to put somebody as arrogant and ignorant as Palin in line to be President are not good for our country. They risk making our lives worse than those lives would otherwise be. We see the damage that the last Ignoramus in Chief has done – the desires that could have been fulfilled but which were thwarted instead because of the combination of his stupidity and his arrogance in believing that God or his gut will tell him all the right answers.
Avoiding another four years of similar (or worse) harms is reason enough to act to use our words and private actions to make sure the likes of Palin are not put in line to be President. Making America a better place gives us reason to use words and private actions to condemn anybody who would subject America and Americans to that type of risk.
That condemnation includes Presidential candidate John McCain and any private citizen who supports his choice.