Is Sarah Palin One of Us?

Over the past few weeks, Sarah Palin seems to have been mentioned in great depth on almost every blog with a connection to Special Needs, except this one. Given there was so much written about Ben Stiller recently, I must admit this has surprised me.

Perhaps with the Stiller controversy, nearly everyone was united in their disgust so the debate, where there was one, was more about the notion of Free Speech vs Being Offensive. However, the silence on Palin makes me wonder whether we are more afraid of offending our fellow bloggers and parents – let’s face it, Religion and Politics are 2 of the most divisive topics around, and any discussion about Sarah Palin is likely to be heavily laden with both.

My own political stance is largely irrelevant here as I am not a US citizen so have no vote. However, as both a) an outsider and b) having a background in philosophy, I thought I might try and throw a bit of light on one of the issues as I see it.

My title for this post, “Is Sarah Palin One of Us?” is where I feel the heart of confusion lies in many of the blogs I’ve recently read.

As I saw it, the moment Palin was adopted as the Republican Vice Presidential candidate in the upcoming US election there was an outpouring of hope throughout the Special Needs communities.

Sarah Palin has a wee boy, Trig, who has Down Syndrome!


This means there could finally, possibly, be someone in the highest realms of power who will be on OUR side!

Someone who understands all the issues facing us as parents!

We could have one of ours on the inside!

And yet…

What does it mean to be one of us? Is there such a thing as one of us?

Just because we share a single point – that we all have children with some form of special need – does that mean we have anything else in common?

Even ignoring the differences between all the different kinds of conditions that come under the title “Special Needs”, within Down Syndrome alone those needs can be extremely wide and varied. Just because my daughter has an extra chromosome doesn’t mean she’s necessarily anything like your son or daughter who has an extra chromosome.

Down Syndrome occurs in children of parents of every age, every religion, every race, every culture and every political ideal. Whether they are pro-life or pro-choice, evolutionists or creationists, pro-gun lobby or anti-gun lobby, enjoy apple pie or despise apple pie, need glasses or have 20-20 vision, shave their legs and armpits or go au naturale. Or even whether issues surrounding Down Syndrome dominate your life, or are only one tiny aspect.

It is not selective.

It does not automatically mean you will share other attributes or beliefs with anyone else.

In essence, whether Sarah Palin has a child with Down Syndrome or not is a red herring. It is an irrelevance to her ability to do the job.

And an irrelevance as to whether she is on your side or not.

Do not vote Republican because Sarah Palin has a child with Down Syndrome so you think she is on your side. Vote Republican, Democrat or Independent according to all the other issues that are important to you – the economy, the health service, taxation, education, foreign policy and who you think will steer the country in the direction you want.

Likewise, you do not have to take any notice of what I say, just because I have a child with an extra chromosome…

Kim Ayres
Kim is usually to be found at his own blog, Ramblings of the Bearded One. Although you will find tales about his daughter, Meg, under his “Down’s Syndrome” category, you’ll find far more simply under “Fatherhood

23 Responses to Is Sarah Palin One of Us?