Myth, Politics, Newburyport

Either you love Sarah Palin or you don’t, and what 2 weeks since her arrival on the national political scene, people’s feelings on the matter seem to be already pretty much entrenched. And I am fascinated by this phenomenon.

My observation in local politics here in Newburyport, MA, is that people often vote viscerally on personality, not necessarily who would be best on the issues that face our small New England seaport city.

And I’m imagining that some part of this political reality would apply to how we would vote as citizens on a national ticket.

I came across a fascinating article by Joe Klein, September 10, 2008 at

“Palin’s embrace of small-town values is where her hold on the national imagination begins. She embodies the most basic American myth — Jefferson’s yeoman farmer, the fantasia of rural righteousness — updated in a crucial way: now Mom works too. Palin’s story stands with one foot squarely in the nostalgia for small-town America and the other in the new middle-class reality. She brings home the bacon, raises the kids — with a significant assist from Mr. Mom — hunts moose and looks great in the process. I can’t imagine a more powerful, or current, American Dream.”

Joe Klein goes on to talk about Ronald Regan:

“The blinding whiteness and fervent religiosity of the party he (Ronald Regan) created are an enduring testament to the power of the myth of an America that existed before we had all these problems. The power of Sarah Palin is that she is the latest, freshest iteration of that myth.

Joe Klein continues on:

“The Republican Party’s subliminal message seems stronger than ever this year because of the nature of the Democratic nominee for President. Barack Obama could not exist in the small-town America that Reagan fantasized. He’s the product of what used to be called miscegenation, a scenario that may still be more terrifying than a teen daughter’s pregnancy in many American households.”

I looked up “miscegenation,” I had never heard the word before. It means, “Cohabitation, sexual relations, or marriage involving persons of different races.”

Joe Klein concludes that the “mythic” nature of Obama’s story, is actually much more reflective of America today, but is a “vision is not sellable right now to a critical mass of Americans.”

You can read the entire article by Joe Klein here.