Borrowing an excellent comment

The Gin & Tacos blog is written by a poli-sci professor of liberal bent who teaches in “the Department of Political Science at Giant Public University in the South after receiving his Ph.D. in political science from Giant Public University in the Midwest. He teaches Intro to American Government, Public Opinion, Elections, and The Presidency to a select group of very lucky boys and girls each semester.”

Reading the comments to one of his recent posts, I came upon the following – which is so good, and so close to my own thoughts on the matter that I am posting it in its entirety (with a couple of edits, that the commenter noted were needed). Ed writes that he is looking for “a neutral classroom-appropriate way of describing Palinism as an American spin on the platform of your average Central Asian nationalist party.”

Ellie Says:
March 25th, 2011 at 1:15 pm

@johnsmith1882:

“I think that she represents the “we’re not even pretending anymore that this isn’t about racism, and fear, and demagoguery, all the vile shit we’ve been up to for the last forty years, behind the thin facade of ‘fiscal responsibility and small government’. ”

Putting together your comment with what I was trying to get at, let me rephrase it this way:

The power-brokers on the right have spent decades doing what I described – i.e., victimizing the poor (first) and then the middle class (next in line), while doing their damnedest to convince one group of victims (the straight white Christian ones) that the bad effects of right-wing policies were the fault of the other (non-white, non-Christian, and/or gay) victims. They did it through a combo of tapping into and encouraging pre-existing prejudices, while also seeding new & improved hatreds. After decades of this, they have a base that consists, in part, of poor, straight, Christian white people who are not ENRAGED. They’re enraged at all the wrong targets, but that’s the point. And now there is a lot of seething rage out there – what to do with it?

Palin taps into that angry demographic by being “one of them”, and being the epitome everything that the stereotypes of the “bad” people aren’t – she’s NOT what they’ve all been taught to hate and revile – she’s the “opposite” of the enemy, the embodiment of the “good”. [Black and brown people are lazy; she’s white and “hard-working.” Feminists are ugly and childless; she’s pretty and has a big family. Non-Christians are sinful; she’s a good Christian with “typical” family problems that she solves in the “right” ways (e.g., preggo daughter has baby, not birth control or abortion), unlike those evil sexually-deviant homos and baby-killers. “Elite liberals” are eggheads who talk in fancy intellectual language that’s hard to understand, teach liberal indoctrination in schools, and think they know more than “ordinary” people because they read a bunch of irrelevant books (the US has a long tradition of anti-intellectualism); she’s poorly educated and “plain talking”, with “common sense”, and hasn’t been “corrupted” by effete intellectualism or too much useless book-learning. Union members are foreign and socialist; she’s an all-American frontierswoman who believes in entrepreneurship and “personal reasonability”, not “government handouts”. Etc.]

In sum – she’s one of them, and she’s mad too!

But who exactly “one of them” is, and what they’re all so mad about, has been CAREFULLY ORCHESTRATED. Working-class white Americans have been systematically TAUGHT how to think of themselves, and how to define the other. They’ve been TAUGHT how, and who, to hate. (Yes, there were pre-existing identities and prejudices – but it’s all been manipulated and the worst parts nurtured and magnified, ON PURPOSE.)

Palin is this: the embodiment of the identity they’ve been taught to have, and the opposite of the “other” they’ve been taught to hate.

That identity is, as you pointed out, an ugly one, created for ugly purposes, and it no longer needs to be hidden.
Ellie Says:

I prefer the descriptive word indoctrinate to taught when talking about working-class white Americans but I do agree fully with Ellie’s premise, as it concerns the way a segment of the American population is being exploited by those who care only for their own benefits and not for the needs and desires of the vast majority of the nation.

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