In thinking about the “mythic” power of politicians, and what they represent to our collective American unconscious (see previous posts), I began to wonder about what other myths our top ticket candidates might embody.
Bill Moyers (yes, wise men and women tend to make the top of my list) back in January 2008, addressed the myth of Barack Obama taking away white guilt of racism. (Myth not being something that would be either true or false, but a story or a person that represents a world view.)
You can read the transcript of that fascinating segment here.
For whites to be absolved of a history of racism has a very powerful mythic quality about it.
And then I started thinking about what other myths does Palin personify. One of those myths could be that, even a woman with a large family, could successfully work, i.e. be a governor or a vice president. (Just as a btw, our very own former governor Jane Swift, as I recall, had trouble demonstrating that this particular myth could be a reality.)
And this is also one very powerful myth. Because if someone with 5 children, a newborn with special needs being one of them, could be a successful mother and hold such a powerful office–that could mean, that a family with 1 or 2 children, with both parents who have to work, because of economic realities, and who may on some level feel very, very guilty when they leave their child with a caregiver– if that person could successfully accomplish that feat, that resolves an awful lot of guilt, for an awful lot of people.
And this goes straight to the heart of our difficult economic times. People are having to work harder to pay for gas, utilities, food and hold onto their homes. This could often mean even less time spent with their families–creating even more guilt on the part of struggling families.
And for families with this particular scenario, which is an awful lot of families in America, Palin resolves a lot of guilt in very difficult economic circumstances.
So, when I think about it, and this applies to families in Newburyport, MA as well, my question would be, are the many dilemmas that we as a nation face that Palin could represent (see earlier posts as well), are they stronger than the mythic quality of Barack Obama’s absolving the white world of racism? (Again check out Bill Moyers’ exploration of this concept here.)