I will not be the first or the last to say that the choice of Sarah Palin as the Republican vice-presidential candidate offends me.

Before Palin’s appointment, rather than dreading a choice for the lesser of two evils, I was excited about hearing the ideas of two candidates who seemed to truly care about this country. I was never going to vote for John McCain, but I hoped that once he finished kowtowing to the far right he would once again become the John McCain who seemed to think for himself. The John McCain who once said that a repeal of Roe v. Wade would force women into dangerous and illegal operations.

But when McCain announced that he had chosen Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska, as his running mate, I was truly disappointed.

Actually, disappointment came later. First, I was confused. When I first heard the announcement, I thought: Who the hell is Sarah Palin? I turned to Drudge, Politico and People magazine to answer my query. The results were unnerving.

I quickly learned that she is pro-life and supports teaching creationism alongside evolution in schools; she was mayor of a town whose population seems to fluctuate wildly with every report I read, and governor of Alaska since her swearing-in Dec. 4, 2006 — giving her just under two years of “executive experience.” I only learned about her policy after trudging through endless articles about her newborn son Trig, who has Down syndrome, her 17-year-old daughter Bristol, who is five months pregnant, and several YouTube videos of seven-year-old daughter Piper licking her hand and then smoothing down her baby brother’s hair. I also read several angry quotes from McCain’s camp asking the media to stop questioning Palin’s background.

Governor Palin’s background and policy (or lack thereof; when asked what she thought about the Iraq war in 2007, she answered, “I haven’t really focused much on the war in Iraq”) is only part of what offends me about the Palin pick. I’m more troubled by the hypocrisy of the Republican Party, which, at this point, is verging on laughable. And if you’d like to laugh about it, Jon Stewart has a funny segment in which he juxtaposes news clips from Karl Rove and Bill O’Reilly that showcases the obvious self-contradiction.

But I’m not really in a laughing mood.

John McCain exposed his cynicism by choosing Sarah Palin. He chose someone who may have been a good governor for Alaska, but is not qualified for a position that puts her a heartbeat away from the presidency.

This will be my first time voting. I’m excited that I get to cast my ballot in such an important election. But I’m also nervous.

The Republicans have been re-energized by the Palin choice. And Democrats are stuck shaking their heads in wonder as the polls show McCain pulling even. My advice to Democrats (myself included): Stop being appalled by Palin and do something. Now! The Democratic Party should be re-energized as well by such a blatantly hypocritical move by the opposition.

We are long past fighting against McCain and his yet-to-be named running mate. We need to start asking the hard questions of both McCain and Palin, listen to their answers and come back swinging.