Sarah Palin's new book is out soon, she gets paid plenty to give speeches and she is consistently mentioned in the media as a contender for the presidency in 2012. It takes most politicians years to be considered a contender, but the former governor has risen to this status in just one year.The Democrats have a choice: they can mock Palin as fodder for Saturday Night Live or they can determine what it is that makes her so popular with the Republican right-wing.
If they go with the first choice, they will do so at their own peril. For every person who laughs at the portrayal of Palin by Tina Fey or who shakes their head in disbelief at what Palin says, there is another person who likes her. The net result of failing to take Palin seriously is going to be zero.
On the other hand, it would be worth the Democrats' while to learn the reasons for her popularity. Here are some reasons:
- Her message is simple and repeated over and over. "Support our troops," "The media should start telling the truth," "We need to reduce the size of government," etc. Her audience does not want someone to get down to the fine details with them. This strategy worked well for Ronald Reagan, who was also considered a joke by many.
- She does not pretend to be a conciliator. She is a fighter against the traditional Republican targets, such as taxes, the "biased" media and Democrats in power. And her base loves it because they don't want to compromise, either, at least not in rhetoric.
- She is an attractive woman. Whether or not Democrats agree that this is a valid reason to support a candidate, it works for her. It has worked for handsome male candidates as well, such as John Kennedy. A large group of voters aspire to be like the people they vote for. And when she called then-Senator Biden "Joe" in their Vice Presidential debate, she delivered to her own base a clever way of using her appeal. It didn't matter to her what Democrats thought.
There is no need to call Sarah Palin out of the potential Republican lineup of candidates. There is a need to call all Republicans out for failing to present any new ideas to the table this past year.
It should be clear: if the issue is Sarah Palin, she will survive what the Democrats hand out with her simple, sharp-edged message delivered with sex appeal. If the issue is the message itself, Republicans and independents tired of simple solutions to complex problems will keep the Democrats in power.