Personally, I turned on the radio in time to hear one sentence of her speech: “Here’s a little news flash for all those reporters and commentators: I’m not going to Washington to seek their good opinion—I’m going to Washington to serve the people of this country.” It was followed by thunderous applause and I mean thunderous applause. I turned off the radio and thought, What was that about?
I think what that was about is important to understand, along with understanding what Sarah Palin is doing on the GOP ticket and what folks like us might do about Sarah Palin, other than make fun of her. The pundits, to her mind, and frankly, often to my mind, represent the patriarchal establishment of opinion, very left-brained and know-it-all. She is the opposite. She is this charged-up little dynamo happily quoting timeworn platitudes that someone else wrote and pulling off a big fat feeling connection with her audience.
She is on the ticket to attract energy to a pretty lackluster guy, old McCain, and to get the women who identify with her brand of femininity enthusiastic. It sure takes the pressure off Cindy McCain who couldn’t possibly perform that role. So maybe it’s a good strategy or maybe it will blow up in their face if many more of Sarah’s old demons come out of the closet. But that’s the card that has been played, the Queen of Hearts.
I think the most useful reaction, whether it is in local conversation or high level strategy, is to accept her at face value and not fall into the pit of being lofty pundits who trivialize her strengths, strengths that are the source of her popularity. First of all, she has deep roots into the American female archetype. She is the Annie Oakley Belle Starr outlaw cowgirl rodeo queen: tough yet pretty, nervy yet warm hearted, courageous yet traditional. She comes from the last frontier in America where the shootout-at-the OK-corral flavor of success is acceptable, and she pretty much made her way to the top of the heap with her guns blazing.
May I remind you that this is just a show; an illusion/delusion that will have its own fateful twists and turns as we wind our way into the box canyon of Election Day. The heavy hitters from the Dark Side who work both sides of the street are a whole different set of compadres than the provincial squabblers she has dealt with.
So why don’t we who hope for a regime change ignore Sarah Palin and let her fate unfold without our sniping. Why don’t we look instead at our task, which is not to tussle with her following but to activate our own people: the disenchanted, disinterested, apathetic nonvoters—the welfare Moms not the hockey Moms. Democrats win when Democrats vote. Democrats lose when Democrats don’t vote.
We know who we want holding the reins when the country faces its most severe economic and social crisis since the Great Depression, when the task of keeping diplomacy primary meets the rising challenge of warmongering, and when the threat to the planet’s biosphere requires heroic global cooperation. As summer makes its last hurrah with a call to sample the joys of our paradise—a swim in Tomales Bay with old friends and neighbors—let’s get ready and get strong for what is coming next. No need to put anyone down, only lift everyone up.