Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Thoughts on Palin

I'm in the midst of a discussion with a fellow conservative woman about Sarah Palin.  We're bemoaning how "pop-culture" she has become.  It's as though her persona is a marketable commodity.  Even the respect she may have once elicited seems to be evaporating because of this pop-phenomenon. This makes me somewhat sad, since I consider myself a Palin fan.

After several e-mailed brainstorming sessions with this friend, I summarized my opinion as being along the following lines.  Although I think she may be doing herself political harm by allowing herself to become pop-culturized, I still think she's good for America.  I'll get into my reasons later, but I want to take a moment to point out that in her book, Going Rogue, she makes no bones about the fact that she's not "out to get" a national political position.  She is waiting to see what God has for her to accomplish in this life.

That's very like how I live my life.  People often ask if I planned to have ten kids.  I didn't plan anything.  There was a time, if I think way back, at which I held onto some non-child-bearing hopes and dreams.  But I also realize that God's ways are not my ways. (Is. 55:8)  He knows what is best for me and His kingdom.  He has plans to prosper and not to harm me. (Jer. 29:11).  That's just to big for me to attempt to overwrite.

Back to Palin, I appreciate the fact that a woman of national political and also pop-cultural reknown holds those same guiding principles.

But more than that, I think Palin symbolizes what might be called the clash of cultures in our country.  I posted this excerpt on Facebook a few moments ago.  It is from an article on Patheos by Timothy Dalrymple, titled "Palin Enragement Syndrome."
For the populist Right, Sarah Palin is a personification of all that is still good about America: rugged individualism and bootstrapping success, toughness and pluck, firm devotion to Christian family values, a commitment to the cause of life, and the kind of folk wisdom that cannot be gained through graduate degrees but is packaged in common sense and reinforced through the experience of a hardscrabble life.
Mr. Dalrymple seems to have encapsulated why people like Palin.  And for me, it is an apt description of why, whether or not she pursues national office, I think she's good for America.  In the world of national media, pop, political, and social, its refreshing to see someone I can point to who holds values similar to my own.

My family is a bit different than some (go ahead and laugh), in that we don't have a TV.  So sports figures, Hollywood figures, etc, are mostly just names my kids hear on the radio or among friends.  But as they get older and have more access to the internet and magazines and friends televisions, they become more familiar with pop culture.  Oh yeah, lots of Hanna Montana a few years ago.  Now it's Lady Gaga.  Mmm, now there's a roll model I'm overjoyed over.  But if one of my kids happens see Palin's show at a friend's house, or a snippet of it goes around the e-mail or facebook circuit, I probably won't feel like I need to preview it.  I probably won't need to cringe.  And it might even elicit conversation.  Of course the other pop figures also elicit conversation, but they tend to be somewhat one-sided, "Did you hear those lyrics?"  or "What is she wearing now?"

I realize that, as Dalrymple also points out in his article, there are those who don't appreciate the values portrayed by Palin.  He theorizes that the entire reason many people loath her is cultural rather than political.  Most of those who despise her know little more about her political views and record than the exaggerations and outright lies that were spread during the campaign.  (Case in point, the "I can see Russia from my house," line.  That was Tina Fey on SNL.  Most people think Palin said it.)

According to Dalrymple, from the point of view of those who oppose Palin culturally,
Palin lacks everything they pride themselves on possessing, possesses everything they pride themselves on scorning, and stands for everything they pride themselves on opposing. She lacks cosmopolitan tastes and elite university credentials, a well-worn passport and fluency in foreign tongues, a blueblood vocabulary and literary speech patterns, not to mention a fashionable address and a vacation home on Martha’s Vineyard. She possesses a beauty-queen title and the wrong kind of good looks, a large brood of lily-white children with outdoorsy names like Track and Piper, a commoner’s cadence and a steady supply of you-betcha folksy phrases, and a background in conservative white evangelical and even Pentecostal churches. And she stands for the defense of the unborn, for heterosexual marriage, for premarital abstinence, for the extraction of our natural resources, for small government and second amendment rights, for conservative Judeo-Christian traditions and for American exceptionalism.
How can a person argue with that?  Those types of cultural values cannot be argued.  We all hold our personal values so deeply that they are like breathing.

And that is exactly why Sarah Palin's presence in the American scene is important and good.  She gets people thinking and talking and trying to define and articulate those things they love or hate about her.  Once we can speak coherently about those things we oppose, and also those things we hold dear, we stand a much better chance at civil discourse.  And civil discourse leads to peace, stability and progress.

I don't know if I'd support Palin for national office.  It will depend upon the other candidates who come forward.  But whether or not she ever rises to the presidency or another national office, I still say she is good for America.


madhenmom said...

That was a fast response to the article! I liked his points and agreed with them very much.

Unfortunately, I'm not so optimistic that Palin's presence will eventually lead to civil discourse on the cultural issues that divide us. I've seen some of the most vile comments against her that I've ever seen. I don't foresee that changing any time soon.

I agree that I'm not sure I would support her for national office. I admire her and like her character. But, I'd like to see who else is running.

Do you know much about Mike Pence?

theMom said...

Come on Char, where's the optimism? I realize Palin brings forth the animus of the left, but, then..., what doesn't these days.

I've also had political conversations with people, with whom the subject would never come up had she not been the impetus. And fruitful conversations to boot. I think her presence makes people, who would never have thought about politics, stop and think. And ask.

I don't expect to win over any die-hard progressives, but those who just kind of go with the flow and are willing to talk, I think Palin being "out there" gives a reason to talk.

Re. Mike Pence, haven't thought about him for years. He must have had his name in the hat once years back. Maybe ran against Dole in a primary? Or considered it? In the dark recesses of my brain, I think he's pretty good.

I'm just hoping Pawlenty doesn't run. He hasn't gotten very good showings in any recent polls I've seen.

That's a mercy, anyhow.

theMom said...

I just checked up a little on Pence. I guess he hasn't been around in the "big time" long enough to have been the guy I was thinking of. I'm not sure why I know his name, but it's stuck in my brain from the 90s. Maybe he was written up in World Mag.

He looks good on paper, for what that counts...

Say, I stumbled upon Jeremy Theisfeld while surfing one day. Does his district reach encompass Shawano? He was a DMLC classmate and his older brother was my Jr. year Chem prof at MLPS. He also looks very good on paper.

madhenmom said...

I hadn't heard of Jeremy Theisfeld until now. His district looks to be near Fond du lac. I'm glad he won. (
(Wisconsin, BTW, turned very, very red from the ground up. I just saw a headline that our new governor is considering decertifying the state employees union to help with the budget. Not sure how that can fly, or even be legal, but I guess now is the time to try it.)
I saw this article about Mike Pence the other day. That's what got me thinking about him.

wv: moaked - The Republicans really 'moaked the Democrats in the last election.

madhenmom said...

Slightly OT, but still pertaining to Palin. You might be interested in this article (warning - some bad language)


"So if you are intruding into my life, telling me how to live it-- you must, by necessity, believe you are in some kind of paternalistic relationship with me, I your subordinate and inferior, you my superior."

madhenmom said...

Another article on Mike Pence:

theMom said...

Thanks Char, I'll check it out.

When you're done researching him and come to a conclusion, be sure to post about it on your blog.

Jesse said...

Your comment about civil discourse strikes me as pretty important this morning. I just finished Os Guinness' "The Case for Civility," which includes "The Williamsburg Charter." It would be great for our civil society if principled conservatives like Palin and Levin could present a strong, unified, public agreement on the principles articulated there. (I think it's possible.) I don't enjoy seeing the knee-jerk pathos against Palin as a person, and against the fact that she expresses herself.

theMom said...

I haven't read that, Jesse, I'll have to put it on my list. I've been uninspired by my reading this last month or so. Thanks.