'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Monday, October 06, 2008

Winning an Election With Sexism and Elitism 

Barely a day goes by without me receiving an e-mail about Sarah Palin and her purported inability to effectively serve as Vice President, or, heaven forbid, President. Liberals are gleeful that, for once, much of the public and the media are seeing things their way. Palin appears to have damaged the McCain campaign in numerous battleground states, like Ohio and Florida.

But does this mean that the Democrats and their enthusiastic liberal partisans are correct in their condescending putdowns of Palin? No, it doesn't. In fact, Joe Biden is every bit as misinformed as Palin, as the recent Vice Presidential debate revealed, especially in the area of foreign policy. And, of course, there was his assertion that FDR immediately calmed the country after the 1929 stock market crash.

Furthermore, like Palin, Biden has an incorrigible tendency to talk without thinking, and, once he has started talking, to persist in the hope that a more extensive exposition will result in greater clarity instead of the usual outcome, a descent into outright confabulation. Both Biden and Palin just can't stop talking until they reveal their pretentious belief that they know everything about subjects about which they know nothing. Or, more accurately, they stand as proof of the old adage about knowing just enough to be dangerous.

Biden gets away with it for obvious reasons. He's been around DC forever, and, hence, he is considered a statesman, despite all evidence to the contrary, and she hasn't. He is the senior Democratic member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and she isn't. He has appeared too many times to be mentioned on the Sunday political talk show circuit, and established a warm rapport with the disproportionately male hosts there, she hasn't.

Palin is a woman of local accomplishment with no national credentials; Biden is a man of national credentials with no accomplishments. It's an old story. But there is more to it than just old fashioned sexism. Palin's social experience is too far removed from the political establishment to be acceptable. No Ivy League education, not even a respected Catholic or state school one, like Berkeley or Michigan. She didn't go to law school, as the vast majority of successful politicians have done. She certainly didn't teach constitutional law at one.

No, Palin is the worst nightmare of the political establishment: someone who was actually personally motivated to enter politics at the local level and through a combination of drive and ruthlessness, became governor of her state. Her politics are therefore heavily influenced, dangerously so from an establishment perspective, by her local, as opposed to elite, experiences. With someone like her, there is always this fear, who knows what she might do? In other words, she might not do what we say. And, even worse, she might even encourage the lower middle class to believe that they actually have power and exhort them to use it. In this respect, comparisons to the career trajectory of Ronald Reagan are apt, and she, like Reagan, will eventually find elite acceptability when it becomes obvious that she is no threat.

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