Opposing Views: Palin's Authenticity Drives Democrats to Distraction
What is it about Sarah Palin? She draws huge crowds and gushing support, while simultaneously inciting such wrath from others. Certainly all candidates draw criticism from those who oppose them, but with Palin it's reached a new level. She is attacked for every step she takes, and made fun of mercilessly. Even supposedly objective reporters -- particularly women -- all but mock Palin. (Watch Candy Crowley and Campbell Brown on CNN.)
I come from the Midwest, so I know what it's like to have a "funny" accent that people make fun of. And certainly many people confuse a Fargo-like dialect with stupidity. But the problem isn't Palin's voice. That's just an excuse. Nor is it her folksy style, even when she takes it a little over the top. The same for those who say it's about what she stands for or her lack of knowledge on certain issues.
With Palin, it's personal. I've heard people refer to her in the most derogatory ways, calling her a slut and even the C-word. That's like people using the N-word with reference to Obama. So is it a deep-seated misogyny from men and women that drives their hate? No. It's something far more visceral ... fear.
Palin scares people who don't like her politics because they see how compelling she is. And they can't stand it. Like most politicians, they don't understand what really inspires people. It's called being real. And that's what Sarah Palin is. She's real. She's who she says she is. She says what she believes about her ideas and her faith. She lives a real life, raises her family and still manages to be governor. Even Bill Clinton saw why people liked her. Clinton knows what a lot of his fellow Democrats don't. Authenticity is power. And while a few politicians can fake it, Americans are good at seeing through it. What Americans desperately want is not eloquent speeches, but leaders who they can believe.
What's wrong with that? Why do we think the best leaders must have the most experience in elected office? The best thing we could do is throw out every elected member of our national government and replace them with people who have never held national office, or any political office for that matter. I call it the Year of the National Enema. Now that's real change. As for Palin's adoring crowds -- it's not just about what she believes but who she is. Whether you agree with all her politics (and I don't), Sarah Palin is different. And that's a good thing.
An expert on Opposing Views, Rob Nelson co-founded "Lead ... or Leave," a twenty-something political campaign in the 1990s that became the largest political organization of younger Americans since the '60s. Having worked in the Clinton White House, Nelson has written "Revolution X: A Survival Guide for Our Generation" and "The Last Call: 10 Commonsense Solutions to America's Biggest Problems." He hasa Stanford Law Degree.