Sarah Palin & The Politics of ‘Small-Town’ America

by on September 4th, 2008

After Sarah Palin’s speech last evening, American voters are once again doing an end-around on the media, whose venal preoccupation with her destruction has inspired millions nationwide, many never before interested in politics, to take up her cause. Reports from across the country called her performance stellar, and, most critically, her small-town values and big-hearted love of this nation resonated with people in dense urban settings and rural hamlets alike.

Grasping for political purchase, the left has unwisely accused Palin of being overextended, not capable of caring for her family if she assumes the daunting responsibilities of vice president. It’s a strange role reversal for aging feminists and their male acolytes who, decades ago said women can, in fact, have it all– a family and an executive job–and handle both responsibilities well. But it’s also a testimony to the fact that the younger generation of women haven’t bought the arch feminist pedagogy, which is predicated on an oblique disdain for men and a desperately misguided need to mask their femininity in feigned masculine garb.

Indeed, today’s young women seem perfectly comfortable with a lovely woman, who happens to be bright and politically astute, in a position of national power, regardless of the fact that she has a family. The truth, it’s becoming clear–painfully clear to the liberal media and blogosphere–is that seeing her kids and husband on stage after her speech was the quintessential picture of gender transformation in America. Not, of course, according to the twisted textbook of decaying feminism, but in perfect lockstep with a cultural meritocracy that rewards authenticity, especially when wedded to talent.

Besides her excoriation of the media and left-wing bloggers, her performance was an implicit criticism of the Ivy League elitists and urban sophisticates who habitually dismiss the Norman Rockwell picture of small town America as oppressive and parochial. For them, diversity stops abruptly when it comes to diversity of ideas, in particular when those ideas involve such hallowed traditions as religion and guns.

Beyond that, Palin is a refreshing civic tonic for a presidential election cycle that had become locked in a predictably tiresome battle of liberal versus conservative ideas. She brings the kind of spirited and agile argumentation that excites Americans across the board, because it’s reform-minded in ways that seem free from partisan advantage.

So as the debate rages in the media about whether she’s truly qualified to be–as the leaden-footed phrase goes–one heartbeat away from the presidency, that broad swath of anonymous Americans who capably live their lives without any help from the cultural cognoscenti, were charmed by a woman who artfully expressed her heartfelt love for America and commitment to reforming a political system that is hostile to the common good.

Mella is editor of

Philip Mella