Sunday, February 7, 2010

Examining Just Why, Exactly, Sarah Palin is Electrifying

From the years 1932 until roughly 1964, citizens of the U.S.A. felt positive about their Federal government, and for the most part they invested trust in their elected leaders. But this was only a brief anomaly in the long history of our country, and it ended with Watergate and the Vietnam War before it could take hold and flourish. For most of our national history, the opposite sentiment toward Washington has prevailed and from the earliest years of our Republic, Americans historically viewed their government with suspicion, and even outright contempt. So I guess you could say that the Tea Party movement is really a throwback to another time. What’s new is the emergence of Sarah Palin.

Given this high percentage “anti-government” sentiment, it’s surprising that Sarah Palin hasn’t gained more traction with her message of suspicion and distrust of Washington. Recent polls put her disapproval rating at 55%, with fully 71% of Americans saying that she is unqualified to be the next President. Perhaps the reason for this can be found in the recent Tea Party convention in Nashville.

Never, in my recent memory, has so much adulation and applause been given to such simple utterances about simple-minded solutions to galactically unsolvable problems. Evidently, to be in lockstep with the Tea Party, one needs to believe that a speaker is “electrifying” and “galvanizing” when they observe that the United States Government spends too much, by borrowing too much, in order to deliver too little in the way of problem solutions. Knowing this, Sarah Palin is able to rally her troops by overstating the obvious about Washington. Okay, now we know that the Tea Party “gets it” — the Federal Government is inefficient, and generally doesn’t work as well as it did in the past. The thing is, mainstream Democrats and Republicans “get it” too. The only difference is, Republicans and Dems don’t feel that such self-evident truths are “electrifying.”

My politics are, admittedly, schizophrenic. My objection to Bill Clinton molded me into a rabid Conservative, then eight years of George W. Bush transformed me into a flaming Liberal. And after a year of Barack Obama, I’m now a dejected cynic who believes that America is basically ungovernable, and that even an outwardly decent and intellectual person in the Presidency can have very little positive effect on the problems that face the country today. Sarah Palin, we are told by the Tea Party members, should be elected as our next Chief Executive because she shares a certain folksy commonality with the average person. To this I reply, “Not so fast.” My advice is to go out into the street and talk to a lot of common, average Americans, and then ask yourself if you want your grandchildren to inherit a world that is shaped by the common, average American.

For the record, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and all the men who signed the Declaration of Independence were considered to be aristocratic at that time, and there wasn’t a single man among them who would have qualified today as a common average American. I suspect that none of these founding fathers of our country would fare very well in today’s modern Tea Party, and as the Tea Party goes, so goes Sarah Palin.

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