Guest submission by: D. Carson
As a lifelong dyed-in-the-wool progressive Democrat, newly converted to the Tea Party Republican cause, I’d like to add a bit of perspective on the hatred of the Left for Sarah Palin, and what that could mean for her prospects for the White House. The short version of this post is that this hatred is motivated by the fear of the very real threat that her simple existence on the political stage represents to the Left. They have sought at every opportunity to destroy her because they understand the potential that she has to destroy them.
Most of us know the basic outlines of this story: the Left controls the mainstream media, and because the Left hates Sarah Palin, the mainstream media has constructed an unflattering caricature of her that holds sway in the minds of many people. Unfortunately for the Left, however, their efforts have not been as successful as they would’ve liked. They expected that she would go down in history as a joke, a notch below even Dan Quayle (with the only difference being that she was the VP candidate on a losing ticket). But there she is, still standing, still smiling, still speaking out, still relevant, unbowed and “undefeated”. In fact, not only have they failed to destroy her, by attempting and failing to do so, they have raised the stakes considerably.
In my opinion, the Left has been unsuccessful to date in destroying Sarah Palin for two reasons: her charisma and authenticity. Charisma in politics is a sort of armor against attacks. No matter what the press or her enemies say about her, Sarah Palin’s base will never forsake her and millions of people will follow news of her comings and goings with endless interest whether they agree with or like her or not. There’s nothing that anyone can do about that – it’s just a part of who she is. Ronald Reagan’s charisma led him to be called the “Teflon” President. Bill Clinton’s charisma enabled him to survive the worst kind of personal scandal with his popularity largely intact. Sarah Palin’s charisma has enabled her to endure the most vicious attempt at a political character assassination that this nation has ever seen, and come out of it stronger and more popular than ever.
But even more important than charisma is authenticity. The Left depends on their ability to paint conservatives as “phony hypocrites” who don’t personally or even politically live up to their professed beliefs. Their recent mad scramble to find something (anything!) incriminating or embarrassing in the 24,000 pages of emails from Palin’s gubernatorial administration a few weeks ago shows just how desperate they are to find evidence that she is not who she says she is. But the fact is that Palin is not a “flip-flopper”, a “panderer”, or a “RINO”. She says what she believes, and believes in what she says. Her personal life and her political beliefs are in sync with each other in every way. This drives the Left crazy.
But having survived and even thrived in the face of this Leftist media onslaught, Sarah Palin is now poised to deliver a devastating blow to the Left, the likes of which they have perhaps not suffered before. At stake is not just a political career; the media’s role of gatekeeper is now on the line as well. They have now committed themselves to the veracity of the caricature that they have drawn of her, and as the truth reveals itself to the American people, the credibility of the Leftist media machine will crumble along with the polling numbers of her opponents. In addition, they are faced with a politician who, in her own words, “doesn’t owe them anything”. From last months’ email release, to the documentary feature film, to the eagerly anticipated roll-out of her Presidential campaign, the layers of lies and deceit are being peeled away to reveal the truth of an authentic, capable, dedicated servant of the people.
Yes, the American people will discover the truth about Sarah Palin, and in the process, they will also be treated to a crystal clear lesson in the depravity of the Left and their lackeys in the mainstream media. They tried to convince us that she was a political joke who would fade into obscurity and/or a self-interested, “media-whore” who would never sacrifice her cushy, lucrative perch for the hard work of the campaign trial. She’s already proven them wrong on the former, and all she needs to do is announce her candidacy to destroy the latter as well. If she wins the nomination, she will have proven wrong another whole set of lies, and an actual Sarah Palin victory in November 2012 then would be endlessly devastating to the entire mainstream media complex (which is dying anyways, not coincidentally) that has staked their reputation on the idea that such a thing could never, ever happen. And to imagine that she might actually have a successful Presidency . . . “Katie, bar the doors”!
But the defeat suffered by her enemies in the world of politics will be even more significant. The battle between Sarah Palin and the mainstream media is just a subordinate skirmish in the larger political war between Sarah Palin and the Left. The original source of the hatred for Sarah Palin derives from her potential to effect a fundamental realignment of the American political system in favor of the Republican Party and constitutional conservatism. This part of the story begins and ends with identity politics, as does everything for the Left. Sarah Palin’s very identity as a woman who represents the lifestyle and values of middle and working class America presents a threat like no other to the Left. This is why the Left fears her in ways that they will never fear Rick Perry.
Painted in broad brush strokes, from the Left’s point of view, the American political system can be described as follows: the Republicans are the party of rich, white, straight, Christian men, and the Democrats stand for everyone else. It really does all boil down to an equation as simple as that. If you aren’t a wealthy, white, heterosexual man, then you vote for Democrats. Always. This basic understanding of the political world is drilled into the skulls of millions of “pre-liberal” kids from a very young age, and if they somehow emerge from childhood with any lingering questions on this point, their leftwing college professors and/or union bosses will take care of any stragglers. Any other understanding of American politics is either an irrelevant finer detail, or an inexplicable contradiction of some sort.
There was at one time, long ago, an ideological basis for Leftism: Marxism/socialism. Leftists revered Lenin, Mao, and Che, and even if a full-on socialist revolution was deemed to be unachievable in “advanced capitalist” societies, the welfare state of government-supplied education, health care, housing, transportation, etc., remained a unifying interim goal. But with the fall of the Soviet Union and the breathtaking victory of free market capitalism all across the world over the past thirty years, nobody really believes in socialism anymore, even of the welfare state variety. It failed – miserably — and its failure is plain for all to see. Anybody who needs further convincing is free to defect to Cuba, North Korea (or Greece!) and find out for themselves.
But with the fall of socialism, what remained to hold together the Left, if not ideology? The answer is identity politics. Over and over, the message is continually conveyed to every different kind of “minority” via every avenue of communication possible that Republicans hate you, and the Democrats are your “friends”. Identity politics is the sine qua non of Leftist politics. In theory, it’s actually not a bad strategy: Leftists should never lose an election, because, of course, in no jurisdiction anywhere in America is a majority of people rich, white, male, Christian and straight. In reality, of course, it rarely seems to work out that way. People who are not all of those things sometimes hold conservative views and vote Republican “against their own interests” (tsk, tsk . . . ), causing many Leftists to ponder theories about What’s the Matter with Kansas (or, alternatively, get to work on granting amnesty to illegal aliens of color!).
But even strategies built around changing the demographic picture are threatened by another even more disconcerting reality for the Left: even their “natural allies” — women, blacks, Hispanics, gays, Asians, Jews and union members — aren’t nearly as liberal as they are often thought to be, or as their voting patterns might suggest. In fact, if all of those groups ever began to vote based on ideology instead of identity, the Left would not be long for this world as a political force in the United States. True liberals are a distinct minority not just amongst rich, straight, white men, but also in nearly every demographic group in the country. Identity politics is all that holds the Democratic Party together; without it, it would quickly go the way of the Whigs.
Consider black Americans, the most “liberal” voting bloc in the America, ninety-plus percent of whom vote for Democrats in every election. But taken as a whole and across all issues, black Americans are not that much more liberal than any other Americans. The great painful irony for the Left of the 2008 election was that even as blacks flooded the polls in record numbers to elect America’s first black President, that same record turnout provided the margin of victory for Proposition 8 banning gay marriage even in ultra-liberal California. Black Americans are in many ways just as God-fearing, church-going, gun-toting, money-loving, military-supporting, oil-burning, and family-oriented as anyone else. So why are their votes so heavily weighted towards the Democrats? At bottom, it is because they believe that Republicans are racist, and the Democrats are their friends.
In the interest of brevity, I’ll forego the specifics for all of the other groups that form the “everyone else” of the Democratic coalition, but suffice it to say, the same holds true for heavily Catholic Latinos, generally-affluent gays and lesbians, socially-conservative union members, business-oriented Asians, pro-Israel Jews, etc.: ideologically, the individual members of those groups are, for the most part and with certain mostly self-interested exceptions, simply not all that liberal.
The election of the first African-American President then, regardless of his policies or his performance once in office, will forever remain the key crowning achievement of a full generation of Democratic and progressive activists. I would not be surprised to one day find engraved upon the tombstones of a number of liberal baby boomers, “helped elect the first black President of the United States of America”! Not only did it fulfill the ultimate goal of identity politics — representation of previously excluded groups in the halls of power – but it also solidified the status of black people (and by extension, other minorities) as the electoral base of the Democratic Party.
But there was also a bittersweet twinge to the victory for many in that it turned out that electing Barack Obama to the Presidency meant at the same time passing up on a prime opportunity to elect the first woman President – Hillary Clinton. Believe me when I say that this is a considerable source of consternation for many liberals and progressives, but alas, there can only be one President. It’s just too bad that there wasn’t a good “two-fer” (minority and female candidate) available! Now, truth be told, for some this is just a slight annoyance. For others, however, it became something much more serious. PUMA (Party Unity My Ass) was the appellation invented by Hillary supporters who believed that Hillary was unfairly and unjustly deprived of the nomination. Hillary had paid her dues, had more experience and more thoughtful policy positions. She deserved the nomination. Instead, she was pushed aside by sexism, unfounded accusations of racism, and thuggish, corrupt electoral shenanigans (in fact, Hillary won far more primary votes than Obama, but lost in the caucuses). There’s lingering bitterness there (see the Reese Witherspoon movie Election for the big screen dramatization!).
Enter Sarah Palin.
For Republicans to steal the honor of electing the first woman President of the United States would itself be a devastating blow to the party of identity politics the likes of which they have not ever suffered. But for the Republicans to accomplish this task by capitalizing on failures caused by the inexperience and ill-considered policy positions of the black guy who pushed out the person who for many people should have been the nation’s first woman President – well, that’s enough to make liberals rend their garments from Cambridge to West Hollywood! And for that first woman President to be someone who conspicuously did not follow the Leftist ideal of a woman’s career path – elite schools, delayed and/or nonexistent marriage and children, purposefully unsexy mannerisms and appearance – and who aggressively rejects their ideology . . . this woman must be stopped!
But an even more important threat to the identity politics of the Left represented by Sarah Palin is the white working class. The unfortunate fact for the Left is that they are in fact elitist to the core, and as a group, they do not relate to, understand, or empathize with the “working man” in America any more than their fictional caricature of the “fat cat” Republican would, and they know this. The Left is most popular on ultra-expensive college campuses and in posh, urban coastal communities (thus, they are most popular in places that are both, e.g. Cambridge and Berkeley). They are least popular in those out of the way places all across America where working class white people do the hard work that makes this country run (e.g. almost everywhere else).
But as weak as the Democrats may have been in the past with this group that should be their base, they are even weaker today. In the 2010 midterm elections, the white working class voted Republican on a more than two-to-one basis. They have never voted for Obama in large numbers – not in the Democratic primary, where even late into the primary season with the outcome no longer in doubt, Hillary was still racking up huge margins of victory against Obama in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, and not in the general election.
Take for example this this poll of Pennsylvania voters:
A statewide poll for the Tribune-Review by Harrisburg-based Susquehanna Polling & Research found 47 percent of respondents think the Tea Party played a positive role in the recent elections. Thirty-nine percent thought the party had a negative impact, and 11 percent were undecided. The poll of 800 people, taken from Dec. 27 to Jan. 2, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.46 percentage points.
. . .
The Tea Party’s favorable image has distinct regional divides in the state, said Jim Lee, president of Susquehanna Polling.
“In the southwest, the Tea Party favorability is nearly 3 to 1, while in the southeast, most voters have a negative view of the movement in general,” he said.
Places like southwest Pennsylvania, then, represent a huge challenge for Barack Obama in 2012. Even the Democrats amongst them didn’t vote for him in the Democratic primary, and now as a whole they are looking favorably at the Tea Party by a three to one margin. These are the present-day “Reagan Democrats” who delivered electoral landslides to the Republicans in 1980 and 1984.
Again . . . Enter Sarah Palin.
Sarah Palin is the white working class. She speaks their language. She gives voice to their opinions. She’s worked on a fishing boat with her husband. She understands the value to the economy and industry of natural resources. She’s not “bitter”, but you can bet your last dollar that she will “cling” to her gun, her religion and her country if faced with adversity in her life.
If Sarah Palin is able to energize these voters, the electoral map in the 2012 election will begin to look very difficult for Obama. According to political analyist Ruy Texiera, white working class voters will likely make up a huge proportion of the electorate in key swing states like Ohio (56 percent), Wisconsin (58 percent), Pennsylvania (55 percent), Minnesota (60 percent), Michigan (53 percent), Florida (42 percent), Colorado (46 percent), and Nevada (42 percent).
If they go to the polls in huge numbers and break heavily for Sarah Palin, they would provide huge margins of votes that Obama would have a very hard time offsetting with votes from more friendly demographics. With minority groups and young people suffering from the worst economic conditions in generations, it is unlikely that any demographic would turn out in sufficient numbers to overcome such a tide of white working class enthusiasm rising up behind Sarah Palin. A Sarah Palin candidacy is ideally situated to completely sever the link between the Democratic Party and the white working class, and this would be devastating to the Left in 2012 and for years to come.
Jewish people have of course long been another pillar of the Democratic coalition, and here again, Sarah represents another existential threat that has been brewing for years: the defection of Jews from the Left over the issue of Israel. While Obama was snubbing Netanyahu at the White House and calling for a return to the ’67 borders, liberal Jews such as David Mamet were waking up to the incongruity between their actual beliefs and Leftism.
Sarah Palin has been crystal clear in her support of Israel, from symbolic gestures such as sporting Israel flag pins and Star of David jewelry to her foreign policy views of aggressive support for the Jewish state. In addition, Palin represents the growing alliance between evangelical Christians and Israel, where groups like Christians United for Israel have become Israel’s biggest supporters. An ascendant Sarah Palin has the potential to lead the Jews out of the Left and into their rightful place in the conservative movement, delivering yet another devastating blow to the Democratic coalition.
But the final insult to injury of a Sarah Palin candidacy would likely come after Election Day when she delivers on her promise to rid this country of failed Leftist ideologies, freeing the private sector to work its magic in bringing about actual, real improvements in people’s lives. The sad truth is that identity politics is 99% about tokenism/symbolism and 1% about substance.
Progressives and Democrats do not deliver actual improvements in the lives of members of their coalition, i.e. results, and because they subscribe to an ideology that has been proven as a failure over and over, it is practically guaranteed that they never will deliver any such improvements at any real scale and over time. Instead, they deliver symbolic achievements.
So, blacks in South Central Los Angeles or West Philadelphia or a hundred other places may suffer from massive unemployment, crime, poverty, etc. under liberal policies, but so long as they have black mayors, Congressmen, etc., the Democrats have not been held to account, because after all, they are our “friends”. The same holds true with Latinos and the Democrats’ propensity to stage symbolic votes on things like the Dream Act, or gays and DADT or marriage and on and on. In every case, token or symbolic achievements substitute for results.
The failure of the Left to deliver results may even have delivered a small opening through which Sarah Palin may even be able to chip away at the votes of each of the constituent groups in the Democratic coalition, including blacks, who are the base. The election of the nation’s first black President has unfortunately brought record levels of unemployment, poverty and foreclosures to the black community. With the official black unemployment rate skyrocketing to over 16%, less than half of black men in America now have a regular job. Palin already seems to have her finger on the pulse with respect to this crisis. During last month’s bus tour, Don Folden approached Palin on the street in Washington:
“Gov. Palin,” said Folden. “I’m a black Republican. I’d like to know, what are you gonna do to attract more African Americans to the Republican Party?”
“I would believe that every American is interested in making sure the country is getting back on the right track, that jobs are created in the private sector,” she said, smiling. “Doesn’t matter skin tone on that. We all need good jobs, we need the economy roaring.”
Similarly, in interview with Greta Van Sustren during the first leg of her Bus Tour, she was asked about finding solutions to the problems faced by poor black people in the inner-city:
“Man was created to work, and without a good job we see societal ills . . . such as subpar education, security threats and abuse.”
According to the polls, the vast majority of African-Americans fully agree. A recent Gallup issue poll found that blacks ranked unemployment/jobs as the number one issue facing the country, with the economy in general close behind. No other issue was close. The epic failure of Democratic policy under Obama with respect to the fundamentals of black life in America – jobs, homes and poverty – leaves them vulnerable if and when an alternative is presented that actually works to bring about improvements.
Sarah Palin may also appeal to blacks because of her social conservatism, an issue that seems to be gaining an increasingly profile with blacks. A number of African-American activists have begun to publicize the fact that a radically disproportionate number of black babies are aborted, and that groups like Planned Parenthood tend to locate facilities in predominantly black communities. Abortion rates in some cities for blacks range as high as fifty and sixty percent.
As mentioned above, gay marriage is not popular in mainstream black communities, where seventy percent of children are already born out of wedlock. The black church has always been heavily intertwined with black communities and black politics, and it’s only a matter of time given the receding importance of civil rights concerns before the contradiction between Christianity and Leftism starts to play a larger role. The black business community is none too happy with Obama right now either.
Now, I’m under no illusions that any Republican could win the black vote against Obama in 2012. But if Sarah Palin is elected on a promise to deliver jobs to the inner city by unleashing the power of the private sector and to help restore the central role of the church and family in the lives of black people (as I believe she would), in 2016 her record will stand in stark contrast to that of the Democratic Party on some of the issues most important to the African-American community. Again, a fundamental threat to another foundation of the Democratic Party, albeit in the slightly longer term.
The irony in all of this, of course, is that Sarah Palin does not herself ever explicitly practice identity politics. The basis of her appeal is always to what unites us as Americans, to our foundational principles, to policies that will benefit all of us, not just the privileged few who have access to the halls of power. This is why those who currently enjoy such access in both political parties are doing everything they can to stop her, and why when she emerges victorious first in the Republican primary, and then in the general election, there will be a lot of people, as Rush said, “on the outside looking in”.
Of course, it will not be easy. She is up against the mainstream media, the entire Left and the entire establishment in her own Party. But it’s a battle worth fighting, “for all the marbles”. A victory in this battle will go a long way towards the much-needed restoration of American greatness, peace and prosperity.