I am so tired of the lame brained of the media talking about demographics as if we all voted based on our demography. I vote based on what I need. Most of us vote based on what we need.
The Sarah Palin phenomenon should tell us what it is voters need and need in abundance. They need to be told all is okay, that this big Mama who can shoot straight, challenge all comers, take no prisoners while breast feeding her new son and defending her family from all comers is there for us too. In other words, you and I are frightened and for very good reason.
The house of cards called the US economy is about to fall and leave almost all of us without a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of. The war is not going to end any time soon and that means more and more of the money we will need for things like better schools, not to mention unemployment insurance and Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security and better environmental protection, well, you know it all, the whole ball of wax is going to melt down and we are staring down a very grim future.
Who wants to hear about that? Who wants to be told endlessly about the war between the haves and the have nots? Who cares?
Give us something new, someone who does offer the chance for not just the change in gender and the change in age but also the change from being careful and diplomatic to being hotheaded and angry and all the while being new, fresh, a person we can now paint onto with our own needs, the things we really want.
Yes, many people wanted to see Obama win this election and given the choice between Obama and McCain, you would think almost everyone would want that too. But the choices have been altered. While Obama ran around talking about bringing something new to politics and to the country, he never touched deep down into that hard core fear we all walk around with that the world really is coming to an end.
Just read the papers and you come away thinking, oh my God, this may be it at least for life as I know it now. What am I going to do?
Then along comes this brazen woman from Alaska. A voice out of the blue, a voice not heard before, in a sense picking up where Obama left off, except with a much more urgent appeal to people and a much less refined appeal to us all. The message is clear and the media love it because they love to watch her blast off and do these wacky things and they cannot believe their good fortune in finally having someone they can actually have fun writing about.
Then there is that middle group of Americans: Those of us who are so awfully frightened. I live daily with this dread of losing everything even when I own nothing but my bank account. I tell myself I should take the money and put it under my mattress for all the good it does in a bank. But then I am afraid of other things like thieves, fire, and my own forgetfulness. Whatever it is that could make that pitiful pile of bills disappear will leave me without anything—no home, no car, no health care, no place to hang my hat at the end of the day.
These fears are not without precedent and certainly can come upon us all day long. What astounds me and saddens me is the need we have of wanting someone larger than life to help us out of our own problems. I am not saying the government is not responsible for providing the safety nets, I would not disown my Democratic allegiances, but I am saying, we want to be told what to do, especially when the times are as confusing as these are.
Anyone who disparages the notion of community organizing, for example, is simply saying that they are that kind of person. To them, it doesn’t matter what we do because we care about where we live and want to make it better. This young woman from Alaska can do us better. And therein lies the paradox of her appeal. It doesn’t matter that her experience on the world stage is the same as yours and mine, in fact that is what makes her even more appealing. She is us, us as we would like to be—brazen and unrepentant, angry and admired by millions, unconcerned that we know nothing about the world or how it works. In other words, we have minted our own new Hitler. I know this not because she has suffered and been imprisoned and written a Mein Kampf but because we have suffered, been imprisoned by our fears and she sets us free of them.
In the rousing cheers and the angry crowds who jump to her defense no matter the ludicrous distortions of Obama’s words, we are witnessing a phenomenon that I have not seen in my life time but my parents witnessed: The rise of the fascist class. This is the time and these are the preconditions for such an upheaval and we have had the writers, the brilliant writers, such as Chris Hedges, warning us of this trend and how it is poised to come out and bite us. And it has. Truly we are our own worst enemies.
Well, thanks to the Republican failures over the past 8 years and the Democratic capitulation to those failures, we now have it rising triumphant, having found its voice in this woman from Alaska. The fact that she appeals to that base instinct in all of us to be rescued from the fears, the dread of life, says a lot about the dire circumstances in which we now live.
There is something we can do about it and the first thing is to call it what it is. If history is a lesson, and I do hope it is, we need to do more than that. I wish I had some answer to give to every single person as to what they can do to fight this kind of cataclysmic turning of our attention from the things we need to do to the things others want to do to us. How to rouse a contrary response once this kind of momentum has taken hold has captured the theorizing of those much more educated in this than I, people such as Naomi Klein have written brilliantly about it.
Again, what is clear is that the danger is right there with us, within us. For who does not want someone to help us have something to cheer about even if what we are cheering about is false and shallow and has no merit whatsoever? I too would love to cheer only I am afraid, much too afraid, of the crowd that wants to allow the continued takeover of this country.
They remind me only too vividly of what happens on our roads when someone in a big car decides he or she has more pressing business than a stop sign, or a pedestrian or even another car. Their arrogant trampling of our right of way sets off the rage. We feel humiliated, we think we can counter this offense and yet what is the real offense? The offense is that someone we do not know makes us feel small, helpless and unimportant. But sorry to say, we are all basically unimportant until we choose to do something worthwhile, like giving to our communities without seeking anything in return, making a place for the elderly to live free of fear, opening our hearts, homes and pocketbooks to those with less even when we think they don’t deserve it, and especially when we think they don’t deserve it.