This will be my only post on this topic. After today, I will not discuss Bristol Palin out of respect for her and her family, but I do believe that a few things should be said in light of recent events.
First, I was glad to hear Barack Obama condemn those who were spreading baseless rumors about Bristol . Good for him, and a class act as well. However, in all fairness, I don’t think he went far enough. The rumors he referred to were started by the Daily Kos, a far Left smear site with a reputation for this sort of thing. They reported that Bristol was the one who gave birth in April to Trig Palin, the youngest of Sarah Palin’s children who also suffers from Down Syndrome. It was a cruel attack on Bristol and her mother and was way beneath us as Americans. Obama failed to mention the Daily Kos and thus also failed to condemn them specifically. Obama has ties to this website and even attended their convention, along with Hillary Clinton, during the primary season. The Daily Kos is a radical Left-wing organization that should be marginalized in American politics at every opportunity. Obama’s repeated failure to do so is a disappointment.
Now the Left has moved on to another talking point, suggesting that Bristol ’s pregnancy is somehow Palin’s fault for not teaching her child about birth control despite the fact that nobody knows what Sarah Palin teaches her children behind closed doors. This also is unfair. Before Sarah Palin was chosen as McCain’s running mate, I though I had seen the absolute worst behavior American politics had to offer. I was dreadfully wrong. The treatment Sarah Palin has had to endure in just 4 days has left me aghast in shame. And I fear that this is only the beginning. I have confidence that Palin can take it, but something tells me it will be harder than she – or any of us – could ever have imagined. To steal a line from Obama: America is better than that. To take it a step further: Apparently, the Left is not.
Now, in regards to young Bristol and the situation she currently faces, the Left is loving it. Indeed, the Left often reacts with glee whenever someone with traditional, conservative values falls short of what they believe and ends up facing difficult times. The source of their glee is, I think, due to the fact that they love to fling the “hypocrite” label at people who hold certain morals. I also think they believe that McCain’s voting base will turn on McCain-Palin and call for a good ol’ fashioned stoning of the poor girl. Well, that won’t happen, and it has nothing to do with partisanship or hypocrisy.
Conservatives like myself believe in certain things when it comes to living our lives and proper behavior. We call these things morals. We hold them dear because we believe they are the best way for a human being to live his/her life. Many of these morals are based on traditional Judeo-Christian teachings, based on what the Bible teaches us. You see, we don’t see the Bible as a rule book where someone is subject to a penalty or punishment for breaking the rules. Instead, we see the Bible as sort of an owner’s manual for a human life. It’s the place to go when faced with difficulty and it’s the place to start for basic maintenance, to avoid complications, or at least prepare ourselves for the occasional flat tire. Among these morals are the traditional one man/one woman marriage; the need to respect, honor, appreciate and protect all human life; that sex within marriage is a beautiful gift from God, but outside marriage can be destructive and lead to difficulty and tribulation; the importance of respecting and honoring one’s parents and elders; the importance of compassion towards our fellow man; the love of country; the importance of personal sacrifice to help others in need, etc.
I could list many more but I think most readers are able to recognize traditional conservative values when they see them. So we conservatives do in fact believe that sex outside of marriage is not conducive to a healthy, happy life. We see it as something that leads to many problems for both the individual and the society. I could go into detail regarding those problems, but will save that for later discussion. The point is that we believe humans are better off trying to avoid this behavior among others. Simply put, we see it as wrong.
With that being said – and this is very important – we hardly see ourselves as perfect. Conservatives (and Christians) understand that humans are human, and that means we fall short even in our strongest attempts to live our lives in line with our morals. All conservatives should understand this and those that don’t only act as a detriment to our message. No one is perfect and no one should ever portray themselves to be. The only thing that makes us perfect in God’s eyes is the salvation that came from Christ. Without that, we are nothing but filthy, sin-laden creatures that fall well short of God’s grace. Forgive the preaching, but that’s the truth behind Christian teaching that many conservatives hold dear.
In light of that, any Christian or conservative who portrays themselves as superior or without flaw will rapidly become the target of my ridicule. This is not what Christ taught and is certainly not the message that should be delivered by the Christian church.
So conservatives should understand that all of us eventually fall short in one way or another. That’s why the finger pointing should be kept to a minimum. What is more important is how one responds when they fall short. Do they follow that mistake with another? Or do they right the ship and continue their efforts to stay on track? Conservatives don’t respect those who live the perfect life, because we know the impossibility, the fronting and the dishonesty that comes with it. Instead, we respect those who try hardest to live what we teach and believe. We all stray and straying comes with consequences. Do you accept them and continue the right path or do you assign blame and try to avoid them? To conservatives, that’s the meat-and-potatoes of life. Character is not defined by whether or not someone has made mistakes. Instead, it is defined by how that person responds to these mistakes. This is the difference we see in Bill Clinton and Bristol Palin. There is no double standard. Political affiliation has no bearing when it comes to our beliefs. John McCain understands this, and that’s why he chose Palin despite Bristol ’s situation.
Many non-Christian or non-conservative folks don’t get this and so the hypocrite label flies. They expect us to be mistake-free or else surrender the morals we hold so dear. In all fairness, that’s because many Christians are far too “fire and brimstone” in their teaching, and they’ve lost the message along the way. There has been way too much condemnation from the Right and not enough positive reinforcement. We have fallen short in how we approach homosexuality, teenage pregnancy, chemical dependency, adultery and many other things. It was a mistake in leadership and one that we all continue to pay for.
Bristol Palin made a choice in her life to engage in sex outside of marriage. We believe such a choice, like many, comes with consequences, one of those being an inconvenient pregnancy. The consequence is that her personal ambitions must now be put aside so that she can properly raise her child as any devoted parent should. Bristol is 17 years old. She has her entire life ahead of her and no doubt had plans that certainly changed with the arrival of her child. The same could be said for her boyfriend. The law allows them the option of shirking this responsibility and continuing with their respective plans. But Bristol chose otherwise, and that’s what will impress conservatives and Christians. She displayed courage and maturity far beyond her 17 brief years and that’s a testament to the strength of her family. This issue won’t turn conservatives away from Palin, it will draw them closer.
To be clear, Bristol Palin made a bad decision. There is nothing glorious about teenage pregnancy. But her child is a human life nonetheless. The age of the mother doesn’t change that fact, it just means that their road will be paved with more difficulty. Bristol Palin recognized this and chose to adhere to her principles by not following one bad decision with another. She should not be glorified in any way for getting pregnant. However, her decision to accept the responsibility of her actions is admirable. Her task now is to minimize the effect on the child’s life that may come from her bad decision, no small task in any way.
I read the statement released by Sarah and Todd Palin regarding this matter and I agree completely. This is exactly how I would (or hope to) respond if faced with a similar situation, and most conservatives feel the same way. Young Bristol needs love and support as she soon realizes the difficulty, immense responsibility and, yes, the blessing that comes with raising a child. And her responsibility is even greater with the national spotlight. She will not have the luxury of making the mistakes that a typical 17 year old mother is allowed to make in our society. No, she is under a microscope and I hope she is up to the task for her and her child’s sake. The expectations are almost unfair. Her willingness to take them on is respectable, and the opportunity to do some good from her position is obvious.
She will be in my prayers, as will her family and indeed all young mothers who face similar circumstances across this nation. Bristol has stumbled a bit, who among us hasn’t? With the love and support of her family she got back up, she righted the ship. There will be other mistakes in her life, but if she reacts to those in a similar manner she will be fine.