Opinion

Commentary: Those 'Mama Grizzlies' don't speak for me

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/MCT

On many counts, I qualify as a Mama Grizzly.

I love my country.

I worry about the future.

I am pro life.

And I've been known to rise on my hind legs to defend my five cubs. (Actually, I've also batted those cubs around when they're not walking the straight and narrow.)

Yet I paw the air in anger and frustration every time I hear Sarah Palin and other conservative women talk as if they've been anointed by a higher power, as if they're the only female candidates with common sense, as if they speak for me. They don't. In fact, Palin and her Grizzlies don't represent middle-of-the-road women who are registered independents voting both sides of the political aisle.

Palin first used the term Mama Grizzly in 2008 as a vice presidential candidate, but its usage to describe a movement didn't catch on until this election cycle, making it the political catchphrase of 2010, much like soccer moms and Joe Six Pack were for previous elections. Regardless of party affiliation, you have to admit this ursine image is pure PR genius.

Palin began writing about mama bears on her Facebook page and then had her political action committee make an Internet ad with flag-waving, baby-carrying women -- an ad Newsweek described as ``plaintive and urgent as a 1960s protest song.'' In other words, long on emotion and short on details.

Listen to Palin's voiceover: ``And that's what we are seeing with all these women who are banding together rising up, saying, `No, this isn't right for our kids and for grandkids and we are going to do something about this. We are going to turn this thing around, we're going to get our country back on the right track -- no matter what it takes -- to respect the will of the people.''

Some may haughtily dismiss the Grizzlies' roar as marketing spin, but like it or not, these bears are rewriting what it means to be a viable candidate. No longer will the Nikki Haleys, Sharron Angles, Michele Bachmanns and Christine O'Donnells walk in lockstep with our old image of female politicians. Their new feminism allows women to think whatever they want -- or be as nutty and out of touch as they want. And some are, scarily so.

Mama Grizzly candidates generally want government out of their lives -- out of health care, education, environment and business. In a perfect world, this may be laudable, but in reality it is downright irresponsible.

To insinuate one set of mothers is more committed than another to children and country is like . . . well, like a bag of poopy diapers. We are all interconnected, and ignoring the environs outside our white picket fences will cost us.

Protecting the cubs requires a collective commitment to community. It means the poor child who sits next to mine in school should have access to health care. It means the father who lost his job will get extra help while looking for employment in a dismal economy. It means a clean earth, more protection for consumers and requiring the wealthy to pony up what they can plenty afford.

Sure, Mama Grizzlies have a right to roar, but let's make sure their racket stands for an agenda that helps children, not just the rich, the powerful and the well-connected.

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