Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Right Rage

Most Americans would probably agree that rage is generally unfavorable. But these days, someone brand new to the national spotlight is all the rage, and she finds her bandwagon a bit fuller with every passing day. Not that Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin minds the rampant characterizations or barbs about inexperience that are being thrown her way; she’s happy to be raging against Barack Obama’s well-oiled political machine of astronomical fundraising and registering unprecedented numbers of new voters. McCain may claim to be the Maverick himself, but it’s Sarah Palin who is inspiring as much rage from the other half of America as we all felt when sweet ole’ Goose died. Now that’s saying something.

Newsweek columnist Lisa Miller is saying something, too. The selection of Palin, she claims, flies in the face of recent evidence that evangelicals have been turning from their hard-line socially conservative obsessions and “divisive religious rhetoric” toward things like “global warming, Darfur, illiteracy, human trafficking, preventable disease.” Had the change been made in earnest, these “softened” evangelicals could make political hay, potentially altering the identity of the Republican Party or swaying in large numbers toward Obama’s camp. But what Palin lacks in experience, she makes up for in zeal and focused ideology. She was raised Pentecostal and, if her politics are any indication, still espouses a strict moral code of behavior. Most importantly, though McCain struggled early on with the Republican Party’s evangelical base, Palin has announced her presence with the loud, angry beat of a very familiar drum: a rigid, aggressive pro-life platform.

Many of the young, reform-minded evangelicals might have been able to look beyond this utterly polarizing debate this election year – or at least see and clearly evaluate the issues surrounding it. It nearly goes without saying that evangelicals are pro-life, but it seems they were ready to turn the corner on their evaluation of its importance. After all, McCain doesn’t exactly stoke the spiritual fires that keep his base warm and active. Now, with the focus squarely back on a debate that essentially posits one candidate against the entire corpus of old-time religious values, abortion is returning to its status as the great wedge. While it may be true that change is coming no matter what ticket is elected come November, Sarah Palin aims to use one tried and true method to boost McCain into office: just the right amount of that same old, pro-life, right-wing rage.


Jonny C said...

Perhaps what is most worrisome about this article is the author's complete lack of insight into the minds of anyone hailing from the Republican Party. Once again we have the image of the Democrats as the saviors of society, the righteous few who stand for racial equality and human rights. The Republicans, on the other hand, are villified, regarded as the keepers of the "status quo," caring only about power for the rich white man, regardless of who they have to run over. A perfect example of this can be seen when Miller asserts that "young Christians had become hopeful in recent years that they might look beyond abortion to other issues—a change in perspective that could lead to a vote for Sen. Barack Obama. Palin backs these Christians into a corner." The assumption that Palin's one and only concern is abortion and that somehow the McCain ticket is incapable of providing solutions to the issues that are important to young evangelicals gives us a glimpse of how narrow minded this columnist is with regards to the Republican party. The post this is responding too falls into the same trap, unfortunately, as we hear words full of rage to describe someone as full of rage. It seems that the pictures of our political parties have all been painted, and those who have aligned themselves with the party obsessed with abortion and full of rage are being slapped with the labels of intolerance and lack of compassion.

Kaitlyn S said...

I find the fervent support for Sarah Palin by evangelicals in this upcoming election very interesting. While she definitely holds the ideologies and beliefs that this large and vociferous group of voters likes to see, I think people are forgetting that her name is not on the top of the ballot. By voting for Sarah Palin, people are actually voting for John McCain, who as Wes pointed has struggled to connect with the conservative Christians of this country. While John McCain would be our oldest president and if something were to happen to him Sarah Palin would run this country, odds are that if elected, she will simply be the vice president. While supporters are touting Palin as the only candidate with executive experience, as vice president she would have no opportunity to use it, seeing as the only duty of the vice president is to break ties in the senate (as declared in the Constitution). Thus, the importance of the vice president should not be down played because as so many have said he or she is literally one heartbeat away from becoming president. However, the person who will be signing bills into law in 2009 will either be Barack Obama or John McCain, not Joe Biden or Sarah Palin. I urge all voters, especially evangelicals, remember this fact.

Sara G said...

While it is important to focus on the top candidate on the ballot, I don't think we can forget it is a combined ticket. It should be a consideration who would be taking over for the president, as the media are painting Obama as our next Kennedy and John McCain would be the oldest president. Additionally, Dick Cheney has an unprecedented amount of power as the vice president. Who is to say that this would not continue into the next administration? In the end, both presidential candidates picked a running mate who best rounded out the ticket for their respective constituencies.

Back to the article at hand, I think the author feeds into the idea that McCain/Palin is another term or Bush/Cheney. It certainly wasn't a new or original argument. It does seem that this election is going back to the moral issues, such as gay marriage and abortion. Citizens know where each party stands on those issues. I really just wish we could go beyond those to focus on ones that impact all citizens, such as the failing economy.

Katharine W said...

Miller does little to explore the impact of what she dubs “softened” Evangelicals have had upon changes evident in the Republican Party, such as the aforementioned selection of John McCain as the Republican candidate. This selection is a contrast to a more popular choice with the old Evangelicals, such as Mike Huckabee. I also agree with the critique offered by other comments that Miller as well as the post author’s assertion that the selection of Palin as a Vice Presidential candidate brings us back to the debate surrounding abortion, is flawed. Not only do recent polls suggest the growing importance of issues like the economy, health care and international relations as decisive for voters in this election but additionally, a majority of the rhetoric from the campaigns themselves concerns these issues. Further, this column ignores a large number of polls that suggest that the positive polling in wake of the Palin decision is attributed to gaining more support from women (especially in the Republican party). In the end it seems that Miller’s critique of the election, that it appears to be reduced down to a single issue and ignore the voices of younger voters, is exactly what her article accomplishes; closing with a bad pit-bull lipstick line to boot.