September 07, 2008

Politics of Resentment

Marcy makes an important point about Sarah Palin and her ability to become the latest face of Conservative Christianity up against the disdain of the liberal elite. Can she stoke another round of resentment which has been such a powerful factor in our politics since Richard Nixon? (emphasis mine)

Digby's absolutely right that the Republicans are trying to use Palin as another Nixon, someone who mobilizes large numbers to reject the rationally best choice in favor of someone like them who has suffered from the same sleights from the popular kids.

But she's not Nixon. She is the cool kid, the Heather who gathers her popularity by tearing down those around her.

And that might work. A lot of people don't necessarily grow out of that sixth grade mindset, the urge to feel better about yourself by cruelly mocking others. But I suspect that there are actually more people who have a Laura Paluska in their life--and they don't want one to be their Vice President. I suspect that if Joe Biden continues this line, he may remind all the people the Republicans are trying to attract with this ploy that Palin actually isn't the one being attacked unfairly. She's the archetypal attacker, the girl who, when we were all just forming our adult character, tried to rip that down.

We don't know how this is going to play out. But the politics of resentment can go both ways, and Sarah Palin is definitely vulnerable to attack as a Heather, the popular girl who no one much likes anymore after they graduate from high school and realize there are more important issues in life than who wears the coolest jeans or who dates the hottest guy.

And it seems that this aspect of Sarah Palin is not what Alaskans expected to see. Here's Laura McGann's report on how people in Palin's state reacted to Sarah Palin's speech at the RNC:

The crowd — on TV and in the bar — was on her side. Then, 10 minutes in, Palin swung hard with her right. “I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer,” Palin said, “except that you have actual responsibilities.”

Bar-goers seemed to gasp in unison.

This Palin lunging at Sen. Barack Obama on national TV was not the irresistibly likable, maverick governor they had come to know.

The meanness of the words put in her mouth were what you expect to see come out of the mouths of Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh. And although the politics of resentment has been effectively wielded by the demagogues for decades, she might just find herself on the wrong side of that ploy.

Posted by Mary at September 7, 2008 12:26 AM | Elections | Technorati links |