Serious question: Who actually wants Sarah Palin to be President?
American democracy is a wonderful thing. Anybody who qualifies under the Constitution – natural born citizen aged at least 35 years – can run and be chosen by the Electoral College as President of the United States. As a result, all sorts of oddball characters have run for President over the years. And some have garnered remarkable followings until their supporters grew bored or disenchanted. Many have stood in as protests against some perceived Other bearing down on them.
But most such supporters recognize that their vote for, say, George Wallace in 1968 or, for that matter, Henry Wallace in 1948 (Progressive Party candidate running well to the left of Truman), are little more than protest votes.
But I’m not convinced at all that Sarah Palin’s supporters view her as a mere protest vote against whatever real or imagined foe is out to get her. I think the 20% of Americans – 40% of the GOP primary electorate, roughly – that want Sarah Palin to be President really do want Sarah Palin to be the President of the United States.
Now, I understand her cultural appeal. She is the classic Reverse Elitist. She takes all the exclusive pretensions of cultural elitists, reverses them, and holds her crowd to be the only people who should matter culturally and politically. Her ilk has had broad support for many, many years.
But do these voters, who presumably vote for one of the two conventional candidates every four years actually see her as fit for the Presidency like they presumably saw, say, the Bushes or Reagan?
Think about it. Not only is she comically uninformed on the basic issues of the day; that one can ask seriously whether or not her North Korea gaffe was a mere slip of the tongue and not genuine ignorance over who is who on the Korean Peninsula should disqualify her immediately. But she actually quit the one executive job she ever held – Governor of Alaska. Alas, she can’t be held up as some sort of tough and gritty fighter – a mama grizzly in her imagination. Nor can she claim to be an impoverished and struggling mom, considering her scads of wealth following on her book tours.
She is the classic American Idol candidate. It isn’t just that she lacks experience. It’s that she lacks anything approaching the sort of character that her own conservative and Republican backers supposedly cherish in a strong leader. She doesn’t have “resolve.” Her values are self-evidently skewed. She is utterly unserious on just about every policy discussion out there.
Every conservative and Republican I know dismisses her. They don’t necessarily “hate” her. In fact, most conservative Republicans I know think of her the way I think of Al Sharpton – an occasionally amusing demagogue who is utterly unfit for the Presidency. My conservative friends, of course, don’t see Sharpton as amusing at all – just as I don’t see Palin the slightest bit funny. But we all agree that America would be horribly served if either of those two buffoons were to ever occupy the White House.
Even the Tea Party is ambivalent about her. My guess is that it’s the educated and libertarian wing of the Tea Party that sees her the way my conservative Republican friends do. So that leaves the ignorant – same as the genuine Sharpton backers on my side of the aisle.
But even among them: do they REALLY want Sarah Palin to President? Or is she just, in the end, a cultural icon who fights their fight in the broader media world?
I don’t know how you could poll this question. But I do wonder, anecdotally, if there really are large numbers of people who would take comfort with the reality of Sarah Palin in the White House.
Needless to say, my guess – and hope , for the sake of American democracy (at the risk of concern trolling…) – is that most of the powers that be in the Republican Party know this and will make damn sure that she is not the party’s nominee in 2012.
UPDATE: Here’s a roundup on the subject of whether this will be Sarah Palin’s big year.