It hadn’t been two decades since the feminist movement of the ’60s when Walter Mondale announced Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate in 1984. Five years after Britain elected Margaret Thatcher as its first female prime minister, Americans also welcomed the idea of a woman holding a significant position of power.
The late Ferraro was an educated woman. She served her own jurisdiction as district attorney and went on to win a seat in the House of Representatives in 1979. Four years later, Mondale took a chance on her. She made history as the Democrat Party’s first female vice presidential nominee.
In their campaign against Reagan/Bush in ’84, the Mondale/Ferraro ticket wound up losing in a landslide. Nevertheless, it could be argued that Ferraro’s significance in the race carried what energy the ticket had. They won 34 million American votes — 40% of the popular vote.
Though the results were disappointing, Democrat operatives and talking heads managed to move forward without consistently dragging Ferraro’s name through the mud.
This is a little perplexing to Americans who now hear what some members of the GOP are saying about Sarah Palin. Joe Scarborough recently advised the party to avoid “the perils of Palin.” An unnamed Romney adviser claims she “poisoned the well” for women in the GOP. A New Hampshire paid politico and 2008 state Republican Party chairman believes that Palin was the “error of 2008.” This dismayed Tea Party members who believe that the “error of 2008” was Barack Obama.
If all this isn’t enough, Karl Rove earlier this year declared that Palin’s endorsement wasn’t “worth snot.”
Rove’s statement is particularly odd when you consider that similar party talking heads are complaining that Palin hasn’t officially endorsed Romney — even though she’s clearly stated that she’d gladly vote for him in light of the fact that replacing Barack Obama remains her number-one goal for 2012.
Not only does the GOP’s willingness to sell out Sarah Palin in 2012 undermine Palin herself, but such snobbery also transcends to the Tea Party. If they cannot find anything productive to say about their party’s 2008 vice presidential nominee (or the first woman on their party’s national ticket), why do they bother saying anything at all?
Without taking away from Ferraro’s legacy, it’s fair to point out a few facts. Sarah Palin actually had a record of executive accomplishment. Aside from serving as governor, she served as a mayor and as an oil and gas regulator for many years.
Throughout her entire career, Palin displayed a strong desire for reform. She cut taxes, she slashed business license fees, and she still managed to cut overall spending in Alaska’s budget. In doing so, she was able to put billions away in reserve accounts for the state’s future.
She accomplished far more than many full-term governors and multiple-term politicians. She then resigned for very logical reasons and went home to live by the laws she created.
But despite doing significantly better as a candidate than Ferraro and going on to have a greater impact as she works tirelessly for her party, Palin’s influence and the legacy of her candidacy are met with efforts to marginalize both from the party’s power-players.
It’s difficult for Tea Party Americans to wrap their minds around this when Palin removed herself as a direct political threat to the establishment since she didn’t run for president. To sweeten the deal, she’s even working to make sure Congress is filled with good conservatives ready to get to work for Mitt Romney.
Apparently, none of this is good enough. Aside from the continuing negative remarks, the same naysayers remain chillingly silent with regard to Palin’s involvement at the party’s convention next month. As they look to sitting politicians, very few can deny that Palin has galvanized the support those same folks enjoy.