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There May Be Truth in the McCain-Palin "Maverick" Claim

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Rowan Wolf     Permalink
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Both McCain and Palin are claiming they are "mavericks." It is an interesting claim - particularly from a person from the southwestern United States (McCain is one of the Senators from Arizona). I am sure, that there is an assumption that "maverick" means "independent" or "not conforming to the rules," but that is usually applied as an adjective - not a noun. "Maverick" more typically, and particularly in the southwest, is a calf that has become separated from its mother and becomes the property of the first person to "brand" it. The word "maverick" actually comes from the U.S. southwest and links back to a rancher - Samuel Maverick:
Samuel Augustus Maverick (July 23, 1803-September 2, 1870) was a Texas lawyer, politician, land baron and signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. From his name comes the term "maverick", first cited in 1867, which means independent minded. Maverick was considered independent minded by his fellow ranchers because he refused to brand his cattle.[1] In fact, Maverick's failure to brand his cattle had little to do with independent mindedness, but reflected his lack of interest in ranching.[1] He is the grandfather of U.S. Congressman Maury Maverick, who coined the term gobbledygook (1944). (wikipedia)
The word came from Sam Maverick's practice of not branding his cattle and then rounding up all unbranded cattle as his own . In other words, he was a cattle "appropriator." This from a friend of mine:
Samuel Maverick, a Texan back when it was its own country, had a lot of cattle... like many others who claimed the wildlands of the back-country West as "common lands". Most people who had cattle kept an eye on them, and the practice of annually rounding up one's branded cattle to sort out and sell some, and brand the calves of the new season, eventually became universal. But, in Sam Maverick's day, when longhorn cattle were sometimes only valued for their hides & tallow (because there was no refrigeration, and the railroads hadn't pushed near enough yet- so sailing ships were the method of transport), there were plenty of "cow-rich & cash poor" ranchers... including him. So, Maverick figured that he would brand None of his cows... and at roundup time, his crews went through the bush and drove unbranded cattle to his ranch, to be done with as he saw fit. Of course, there were always escaped cattle around... and not all of them Maverick's... but it wasn't considered a problem, at the time. * You can read his whole excellent discussion from this MySpace link under Sunday, September 28, 2008 "my iron is red hot"
Now Governor Palin has been announcing that she an McCain are not only "mavericks," but they are a "team of mavericks." This would seem to be closer to "first one to brand them," rather than the "nonconformist", "rule breaker," or even "loner" interpretations. In fact a "team" of "mavericks" is an oxymoron (kudos to Kelly for noticing that) - kind of like the idea of an "anarchist party." It would seem that McCain lost his maverick status a long time ago, as he has embraced an ideology of corporate deregulation and cronyism (Savings and Loan scandal anyone?), and has voted almost in lock-step with George Bush over the last seven years - hardly and independent response. Not to mention his vaunted military background - hardly an arena where "mavericks" aka "rebels" are welcomed or tolerated. Likewise, Sarah Palin has declared herself a "maverick" while at the same time avowing that she is a "hockey mom" - in short, a stereotype. Further she embraces the image that she is an average middle class woman, with a middle class family. In fact, that she is a living, breathing, specimen of "Main Street" America - Joe Six Pack ya know? More stereotypes and that is the antithesis is "rebel" or "nonconformist." Perhaps that is how they get by with making claims of "maverick" with a straight (no pun intended) face. Since it ties back to a land baron who cared so little for the animals that were his responsibility, and violated the rights and good will of his neighbors ... yep. Or even that it is a hidden message to big bucks out there that McCain and Palin are open to being "branded" ... You betcha! You can read through the various definitions of "maverick" here.

 

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Rowan Wolf is an activist and sociologist living in Oregon. She is the founder and principle author of Uncommon Thought Journal, and Editor in Chief of Cyrano's Journal Today.


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