The Palin Influence

Any rational viewer of the so-called “final debate” between McCain and Obama would have come to the same conclusion as myself; the debate format has descended to the level of choreographed mating rituals, stroking the egos of the supporters on both sides of the political divide, and enticing none to cross the floor. This is neither a revelation nor an accusation. Instead, I am merely commenting on the reality of the modern American political reality. The system, and specifically those orchestrating the dance, has increasingly become a Manichean dichotomy, without rational thought or legitimate prudence.
Who is to blame in such a situation? Do we assume the political elite should shoulder such a responsibility? Or do we turn our accusatory focus on the partisan media? There is more then enough validity to either thesis. However, as any cognitive scientist will tell you, behavior does not change on the collective level, but rather at the individual level. Therefore, the problem lies not in the hands of the elite in their ivory towers, but rather in the individual hands of the profane members of society, be them American or some other foreign national. However, before we change, we must recognize the root of the problem.
Behavior is not unique to each individual. Rather, individuals develop patterns of behavior through socialization, through the influences of language, religious and political ideologies, familiar patterns and class structure. As these patterns become ingrained within individuals, it is notoriously difficult to remove them and instill new patterns of thought. However, once these patterns become institutionalized within the national paradigm, the critical mass is much more frightening. Nowhere is this pattern more evident then through the campaigning of Gov. Palin, although both sides of the political spectrum have successfully utilized such methods, and unfortunately, unless there is a drastic change at the individual level, with continue with greater frequency and severity.
Palin has successfully (although some political strategists would say foolishly due to short term losses) stoked the dormant ideologies of millions of American. Here is a video provided and produced by al Jazeera. Say what you will for political leanings, there is no doubt the opinions expressed are neither localized nor limited.

It is also educational to watch this short documentary on the ideologies of Palin’s hometown to better grasp the dangers and difficulties of such opinions. You can access the documentary here.
So what are we to do? How do we combat the increasingly polarized worldview of so many around us? First, we must become informed. When simplistic dualities are hurled in front of us, we must expend the time, effort and honor necessary to discover the validity of said accusations. Secondly, we must examine our own ideologies, examining the development and merit of each opinion. As a byproduct of that exercise, we will often notice a stark difference between our worldviews and the stated ideologies of political parties. As such chasms of difference reveal themselves, it is imperative we exercise our democratic right, and choose to extricate ourselves from adhering blindly to institutionalized ideologies. Third, we must vocalize the discrepancies, with all whom we come in contact with. “You support the Green Party/Conservative Party/New Democratic Party/Liberal Party/Republican Party/Democratic Party? Why? What elements of their platforms do you recognize as valid and practical? What parts are just pandering? How do you reconcile this differences?” Partisanship leads to a Manichean split, often with Machiavellian results. The change begins with one.

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~ by maffersalmon on October 16, 2008.

10 Responses to “The Palin Influence”

  1. […] Palin , although both sides of the political spectrum have successfully utilized such methods, and unfortunately, unless there is a drastic change at the individual level, with continue with greater frequency and severity. …[Continue Reading] […]

  2. Hey, I found your blog through Felicity’s. I don’t usually comment on blogs like this, but after reading this post I was provoked into action. Do you honestly believe that the opinions expressed in that video are neither localized nor limited? That’s a pretty harsh statement. I’m sure I could also find some video from a democratic rally showing equally extreme opinions being expressed. There, I feel better now. (:

  3. Jessica, I honestly CAN claim that “the opinions expressed in the video are neither localized nor limited”, mainly to the fact that the documentation of such views has been neither localized nor limited. Albeit, the two clips I provided were from somewhat related geographic spheres, i.e., Alaska and Ohio (alarmingly similar… oh wait), there have also been well documented rallies and opinions in disparate areas of America such as Florida, Alabama, New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Montana, Utah, Nevada, California, Rhode Island, Kansas, Milwaukee, Georgia and Washington State. Granted, each of these reports focuses on groups with either extreme behavior or opinions, but the very existence of common ideologies beyond geographic boundaries displays a little concept of memes. There is a common meme here.
    As for finding similar opinions from Democratic camps, please pass them along. I have been searching for some, but have come up empty handed. Obviously there are similarly opinionated people across party lines. In fact, not only did I allude to this phenomenon in the posting, but I have also written about the dichotomy of politics several times, and by all academic accounts, a dichotomy would infer two mutually exclusive opinions. The dichotomy I speak of is not right or left, that being a false political construction, but rather of puritan and moderate. It is within the Puritanism that is becoming extremely more prevalent, that I choose to focus my attention upon. Therefore, you will notice that there is not a wholesale rejection of economic ideologies, or of social issues, or of foreign policy. I have spoken regarding my preference for particular platform issues in other posts. Instead I have focused this particular posting on the bigoted, Orientalist, narrow minded, self aggrandizing attitudes of the puritan ideology, and ideology that is so pervasive, that I can be found even within the most sensible and friendly individuals. I noticed you neither condoned nor rejected the statements and ideologies of the individuals presented in the clips, but rather choose to accuse another of failing to see a similar view in what is assumed to be my particular camp of political thought. (I assure you, I belong to no political camp). Herein lies the problem of Orientalism and hubris. The sickness of our own selves is not examined, but rather doled out onto some imagined “Other”. It is upon the “Other” that we can cast our ills, and thus alleviate any guilt or painful critical self-reflection.
    This relates to your desire to expose the irrational thoughts of the people in these clips as “others”, and moreover, to be found in both camps. Therefore, the guilt of associating with the Republican camp, in which these individuals also reside, is alleviated. They are “Others”, their thoughts are irrational and out of line with yours. They are a minority, and yet are found in the opposition as well. Here is my problem with that rational. First, the reason we don’t have manifestations of such visceral emotionality on Youtube is mainly rooted in the historical paths of the two parties over the last several decades. This is a long discussion, perhaps better suited for another time, but it is nonetheless important to note that one party has effectively galvanized a puritan population through the methods of Orientalization and Hubris. This is not exclusive to a party, but more effectively pervaded by a particular party. Therefore, my criticism of puritan thought. Thus, the examination of the dangers of the false dichotomy. Thus, your knee jerk reaction solidifying my original post.
    So if you have video of similar individuals galvanized by the Democratic Party, I would love to see it. But once you find it, if you manage to, realize that these individuals are collectively part of the problem.
    Recognize that the dangers presented by the woman at McCain’s town hall meeting in Virginia, who claimed that she could not trust Obama because he was an “Arab”, were not dispelled by McCain’s instant rebuttal of “no mam, he is a good man, a family man, a Christian”. In fact, the problem was accentuated by it. His response solidifies for some individuals across the nation that Obama is not Arab. He is good and Christian. Therefore, he is not “other”, although the other, by extraction, would therefore be Arab, not a good man, not honest and not a family man. The “Other” exists. Not one major news network picked up on this (with the exception of The Daily Show, sad but true). The meme is continued and strengthened. The meme is continued in the videos. It is not one idea. It is not one extreme. It is a meme that is growing larger and larger.
    So yes, Jessica, unequivocally yes. I honestly KNOW that “the opinions expressed in that video are neither localized nor limited”.

  4. Wow. I’m glad I could solidify your argument with my “knee jerk reaction”. Admittedly, that wasn’t my purpose. I would be wise to enlist Caleb’s help to construct an argument that you could respect. But I have a feeling you would respond in a similar way claiming, to “belong to no political camp”. There is an amusing video on youtube of a few brave souls who dared to hold a pro-McCain march in Manhattan. I’m not pretending it’s from a legitimate news source, but it is real. Anyways, it’s always fun to argue. Do you have a degree in political science? I was just curious if this was your field of study, or just a hobby. Keep the posts coming. It’s always interesting to read a “neutral” Canadian’s view of American politics.:)

  5. Ha ha 🙂 cheers

  6. Am I too late to jump in?

    In my opinion, the rallies and videos are not isolated and are representative of a much larger percentage of conservatives than most intelligent Republicans care to admit. What the rallies, led by Palin mostly, highlight is that there is a deep rooted river of racism that is alive and well – and it’s starting to boil to the surface. What is even more ridiculous is that Muslim’s have become a whipping boy – replacing African Americans as the new focus of vile hatred. Today in America (and in England, and in Canada) it would be easy to assume that there is absolutely nothing wrong with hating on Muslims. Why is that OK? Why is no one bothered by that? Why are more conservative voters not speaking out? Republican leaders that do speak out (or who have pledged support for Obama) get totally slammed by the conservative media “it’s because he’s black” Rush Limbaugh on Colin Powell.

    Democrats have their fair share of crazies – but the far right Republicans breed and disseminate hatred and fear while the rest of the party does nothing to distance themselves or to speak out. Just my two cents.

  7. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/23/AR2008102302867_pf.html

    This article describes exactly how I feel about the election. I do want to bring up a couple of other things because I’m tired of hearing about all of the racist republicans. Do I believe that there is a “deep rooted river of racism that is alive and well” in this country? No. I believe that there will always be people that belong to extreme groups with crazy ideas concerning any issue. This idea of a widespread “vile hatred” illustrates perfectly my number one issue with the democratic party. From what I’ve seen, democrats seem to generally dislike most americans and consider them to be ignorant and or racist. Let us not forget sexism, which brings me to the attitudes of far left democrats. I was always led to believe that the democratic party was more fair to women, soccer moms, single moms, respecting a woman’s right to choose over the life of an unborn child. But what happens when there finally comes a woman who has a good chance of becoming president? Hiliary Clinton was torn to shreds by her own party members during the primaries. I not a big fan, but even I was disturbed. She was constantly mocked in the liberal media. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Sarah Palin is getting the same treatment. Sorry Matt, perhaps Felicity and I should take this discussion somewhere else. 🙂

  8. “[…] democrats seem to generally dislike most americans and consider them to be ignorant and or racist.”
    You’re conflating Americans and Republicans.

    “But what happens when there finally comes a woman who has a good chance of becoming president? Hilary Clinton was torn to shreds by her own party members during the primaries.”
    And John McCain called her an “uppity woman,” yet chose a woman as his running mate, after it was revealed that Obama had not chosen Hillary as his. Wow. And he chose a COMPLETELY unqualified woman, to boot. That seems to imply he chose her purely for her sex, to steal dems who were torn up about Hilary’s loss. Well, that plan seems to have backfired. No self-respecting woman would vote for a party just because they have a female running mate. We’re better than that.
    Accusing the far left of being sexist because of Hilary’s treatment is ludicrous. For one, the most leftist senators were not the ones treating her poorly, and for two, the Republicans treated her much worse than ALMOST any democrat.

    Basically, your arguments are weak. I think it’s unfair to attack Matt’s arguments as being disrespectful of your own in some way when you provide little to debate in the first place. And ending each message with a smiley face doesn’t make the content any less snippy, it just makes it look like you want us to believe it isn’t. I’m being snippy, but at least I’m honest. Maybe you guys are friends and I’ll be getting a cease-and-desist order in my mailbox son, but I was just getting annoyed and had to say something.

  9. And I apologise for the typos.

  10. Don’t apologies, I have spell check, and still can’t spell simple words correctly. Thanks for the comments Kira. I am glad that you have found the blog interesting enough to follow from time to time.
    In response to Jessica’s comments, there is a general inconsistency to your arguments. For starters, there seems to be a general lack of understanding of my original thesis, as well as a fundamental misunderstanding/misinformation regarding the process of the nomination. I would go over each issue raised point for point, but as none of my previous attempts to engage dialogue have been reciprocated, I will content myself with simply pointing out to the fact that my original thesis has been validated by the simplistic reductionist accusations. This is NOT meant as a slur upon your character, so please don’t take it that way. I do not fault individuals for being caught up in the matrix of a dichotomous political system, or within the paradigms of constructed language that exist and are utilized to frame systems and situations. I just hope that through providing alternative paradigms, supported by information and critical insight, I will effectively engage individuals at a personal level, thus eliciting some form of personal introspection. If individuals to not take up the challenge, and instead hurl epitaphs back in an effort to ease their own egos.
    Remember, this is not a slight against you, just a criticism of the paradigm in which you find yourself. Big difference.

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