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December 26, 2009 - Ray Hall (Archive)
H. L. Mencken, a journalist, a freethinker, social critic and also known as America’s Nietzsche wrote the following in a 1917 essay: "There is always an easy solution to every human problem--neat, plausible, and wrong."
Sara Palin has tapped into a vein that runs deep into our history. She seems to intuitively recognize that a segment of our population has failed to accept a proper role for elected officials and the part that politics plays in giving shape and form to our government.
Whether a person embraces or shuns politics and politicians there is probably no other force that so directly affects the lives of ordinary Americans more than politics and its policies. No segment of our society remains untouched by the products of politics. Individuals and institutions might ignore politics, but no one can escape its reach—not even the most sequestered or separated religions order.
Despite calls for a secular government religious leaders like the late Jerry Falwell and his followers to the United Conference of Catholic Bishops and their predecessors have exerted influence on politicians and politics in forming local and national policies. Policies—rules that establish parameters on how we interact as citizens emanates from a mixture of pride and prejudices that encompasses compassion, idealism, anger and racism that is usually expressed by a charismatic leader and made manifest by elected representatives.
Perhaps as a people we have failed to accept the proper role for elected officials. Voters can’t agree whether the elected is a ‘stand in,’ one invested with authority to substitute his or her judgment for ours, or an ‘agent’ of the people; one who represents popular views of his or her constituents. Our Republic form of government differs in that respect with countries that have a Parliamentarian form of government where the popularly elected majority party is expected to adopt it’s platform, to rule.
It was also that difference that gave political legitimacy to Ross Perot, a presidential candidate who presented himself as a common, simple man with simple solutions to complex problems. Despite his goofiness Perot won 18% of the popular vote in 1992 and at one point during that summer was favored by 39% of the American people. The Bush family must believe that Ross Perot was responsible for the defeat of George H.W. Bush and the election of William Jefferson Clinton as America’s 42d Presdent.
Today that difference has spawned Sara Palin who, like Perot, is preaching easy solutions for every human and political problem. Unlike Perot who was combative with a voracious press, the Alaskan Governor draws massive crowds of the faithful on a presidential campaign that masquerades as a best selling book tour.
She has also developed nothing short of a brilliant tactic to communicate her message. Routinely quoted in the mainstream press Palin relies on ‘Face Book’ to get her message out without the messiness of being directly confronted by a curious reporter.
Political mechanics, men and women in the trade who can fix elections, are quick to agree with television’s talking heads that Palin’s book offers little to boost her bona fides---to build her political resume. They backchat that her time is wasted—she should be sitting at the feet of political shamans to absorb the craft—to insulate herself from the machinations of real journalists and to read books on foreign policy. She needs to do that and more, they disparage, if she hopes to ever have a change of becoming President. But none of that matters to Palin or her supporters, she has achieved that which no other political person can claim.
Sara Palin is bright enough to know that she may never be elected President of the United States; she has probably come to that realization and evolved to the point of relishing revenge. She is, however, at a tipping point. For the first time in more than a century Sara Palin like none other has a political party, the Party of Lincoln, leaning hard in her direction as a direct result of her acceptance with a segment of the voters.
Sara Palin has dwarfed Ross Perot as a political spoiler, Perot could only help defeat the Republican candidte. There is no one on the GOP’s horizon that can hope to even become the party’s nominee without the support of Palin’s supporters. She and her supporters might even hold the future of the Republican Party in their hands. If Sara Palin chooses to take the Tea Party to a third party movement she might even fold what’s left of the GOP into that movement.
Sara Palin has rallied a hard-core group of loyal supporters and convinced them that Mencken was wrong.
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