Carstair's muse on Gidget, dominatrix of the North
By Joe Bageant
"I grew up with those people. They are the ones who do some of the hardest work in America … who grow our food, run our factories, and fight our wars. They love their country, in good times and bad, and they're always proud of America. I had the privilege of living most of my life in a small town."
-- Sarah Palin in her speech to the Republican National Committee
Translation: "Along with John McCain, I am the only candidate who is not a lawyer. My old man has fished for a living and I have gutted those fish for dinner. And yup, we have a kid that got knocked up too."
In those few sentences Sarah Palin delivered the only legitimate populist message -- however thin -- we can expect to hear during the entire campaign season. Never mind that it is a fraught with contradictions. Whose life isn't? It's a political sop but it's a heartfelt sop, true and simple enough for ordinary heartland working folks to grasp amid the shitstorm of political jargon and crafted messages that say exactly nothing.
And right there Sarah Palin has it both ways. She happily colludes in the media's need for popular culture kitsch spectacle by embracing what is essentially redneck culture, and at the same time gets to play the persecuted female to her constituency (the least persecuted females in the country, conservative white, heterosexual Christian women). If you think that is ridiculous, go out and count the conservative white, heterosexual Christian women voters in this country. Even if you happen to be an African American/Jewish handicapped lesbian living in San Francisco, you must not only take these people seriously -- and by that I do not mean demonize them, but rather understand why they believe what they believe -- and figure out how to understand and even, yes, find common ground. No matter what your kind Democratic congressman tells you in order to capitalize on you alienation, we need to think for ourselves and try to understand America as it is, not the way we wish it was.
Sarah Palin's real coup is that she brings out the snobbery of the left in their dismissal of her as an ignorant hick typical of small town red state America. They vastly underestimate her. Just like they have underestimated George Bush for the past eight years. While they laughed, George Bush managed to get everything he wanted and assist the looting of America in his spare time. No matter that he is vastly unpopular now even among Republicans. He has fulfilled his purpose to the powerful corporations and financial institutions that animate American politics. You do not have to be smart to be president, just malleable to the greater forces at work.
Yet Palin is not stupid. She may be religious and a right winger, but that doesn't mean she is stupid and incompetent (neither of which ever prevented an astute American politician from success, by the way.) She may be the last person any thinking leftist would want to see as vice president, but so far Sarah Palin has been a very successful politician. She has a high domestic approval rating and has soared to the top in record time. And each time Democrats and liberals take a shot at her religious beliefs and moral choices, which just happen to be those of tens of millions of heartland voting Americans, she gains political ground, or at a minimum, holds some for herself and McCain.
The left likes nothing better than to masturbate one another with never ending proof of their intellectual, moral and political superiority. And I for one believe most intellectual and moral positions taken by the left ARE superior. Which doesn't mean shit if you are holding those positions while being prosecuted for simply getting a blowjob or getting investigated by the Department of Reich Security because you like eating hummus.
All progressive people must attempt to move forward in something resembling unity, and that means compromise and coalition. To that extent I get this pounding in my head and an urge to jump out of my chair and scream to my brethren: "Would everyone please quit jerking one another off, shut the fuck up and PAY ATTENTION to what is actually going on, instead of jabbering about what we like to THINK is going on!" Sometimes I wish the blogosphere would be shut down by Homeland Security, leaving what passes fo9r a left in America to stew in reality without the comfortable but removed daily bath in the Internet left's smug self-righteous self-approval.
I dunno. Maybe I'm just getting old and grumpy. Maybe I should have bought a better grade of bourbon yesterday at the liquor store (Carstairs White Seal -- fifteen bucks a half gallon).
But one thing I know for sure. Liberals and leftists, theoretically at least, have more common national interests with red state heartland white working class Americans than any other current political group. And the way to communicate that is NOT sneering at the only candidate who resembles ordinary Americans, their beliefs and lifestyle. When we do that, the Republicans grin like Cheshire cats, our global financial oppressors turn the screws down a bit harder, and the Devil takes a nap, because his work is done for him by fools using the most efficient tools available -- arrogance and hubris.
Like I said though, all this edginess and sour attitude could simply be last night's cheap bourbon. But I don't think so. Because amid the not so surprising news that America has gone bust on the front page of this morning's paper, Palin's Gidget-like cuteness was downright refreshing, even peering out through the toast crumbs and butter stains. And in America these days, that's enough to get elected. Which is exactly my point.
So now I've gone and done it. Blown my opportunity to be the only living person with an online connection who has not written something about Sarah Palin. Ah, the folly of ego in cyberspace.