Palin dismissed Obama's community organizing experience in Chicago with this jab:
"I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a "community organizer," except
that you have actual responsibilities."
Community organizers' responsibilities include helping disenfranchised and often neglected, poor, and exploited people and communities to find their voice to stand up to power and enact positive community change. Organizing is grassroots, in-the-trenches work that identifies and develops indigenous leaders within communities to ensure that all people in a community, not only the most powerful, wealthy, or connected, are represented when decisions are made. Tenant organizers, like my sister Bethany in Brooklyn, strive to hold landlords to account for their slum-like properties. Environmental justice organizers, like my friend Julie in DC, help neighborhoods protect their health and fight when the powers-that-be want to build trash transfer stations and hazardous waste dumps in their backyards.
Organizers can be a thorn in the side of government and businesses who profit from a status quo that marginalizes low-income people, but one would think that Palin, who claims to be a reform-minded friend to the working class, would respect and not demean organizers and the very people they work to empower and democratically represent.
My second issue with Palin is her support for abstinence-only education. My heart goes out to her and her family as they grapple with their teen daughter's pregnancy under such a big, intrusive spotlight, and I would never question her parenting. Children, and teens especially, make their own decisions, but I do think their family situation highlights what is wrong with abstinence-only education, a policy Palin supports.
As a Christian, do I think the place for sex is within marriage? Of course. But I also think that schools are in the business of education, and that includes health education. Parents and churches absolutely should be vocal about teaching teens about sex and morality, and we are remiss if we allow the culture to do it for us. But the truth is that not all kids will wait for marriage to become sexually active, and without education about contraception and safer sex practices, unplanned pregnancies increase and sexually-transmitted diseases spread.
Of course, parents should always have the right to opt out of sex education classes if they disagree, but not teaching about safer sex practices in schools is a costly mistake. If we really want to decrease the incidences of abortion in this country, which is something I believe people from both side of aisle can agree on, comprehensive sex education in how best to prevent unplanned pregnancies (whether through abstinence or contraception) is what school districts need to implement.