I’m already sick of the Palin nomination, and sicker still of John McCain and the pundits who scream at each other on T.V. Yet like someone in a crowd of gawkers unable to turn away from a train wreck, I can’t tear myself away. But I promise, this is my last post on this one.
We really need to put the experience issue to rest. Barack Obama is a United States Senator. John McCain is a United States Senator. They’ve both had fascinating and unique life stories prior to becoming senators, yet they are each running from the same position now. And McCain was never in an executive leadership position and never “ran” anything either.
But the nomination of Sarah Palin has raised the debate over “experience” to a fever pitch. Palin’s experience is having been governor of Alaska for less than two years. Being elected governor of any state is an accomplishment, I’ll give you that. But we need to keep it in context. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Alaska has a grand total of 670,000 people. The city of San Jose, where I live, has roughly a million people. So the mayor of San Jose (America’s 10th largest city) governs one-third more people than the governor Alaska. And, unlike Alaskans, we are a diverse bunch. Our last big political brouhaha was when two different factions of Vietnamese San Joseans took on City Hall and staged hunger strikes over the naming of a Vietnamese Business District. Three-quarters of Alaskans are white. Their political dust-ups seem generally to revolve around how corrupt their politicians are.
The city of San Jose has had two women mayors in my lifetime. My Mom worked for the first one, Mayor Janet Gray Hayes. The second one, Susan Hammer, is a family friend. These women are smart, glass-ceiling busters who did great jobs governing a growing, redeveloping, diverse, economically thriving city. Yet no one would have ever thought to pluck them from their Executive Leadership positions in San Jose and put them on the ticket as Vice President. Why? Because running a city of between half a million and a million people is just not seen as VP-level experience. Yet that is essentially the path Palin took to the VP slot on McCain’s ticket. She ran a state that is much smaller (population-wise) than any major U.S. city. And now we have to hear ad nauseum about all her “executive experience”. In my book, governor or not, she definitely comes up short.