The Growing Recognition of the Palinist Impulse

A few years back I wrote this about Sarah Palin’s policy incoherence (boldface added):

Palin along with the proto-movement surrounding her–Palinism–practices what could be call ‘politics of the blood.’ It’s derived from Giovanni Gentile’s description of fascism: “We think with our blood.”… In Palin’s case, it’s an emotional appeal to a romanticized, mythical past of “real America.” And that’s why I think the fixation people have on Palin’s complete policy incoherence and ignorance is missing the point.

Her policy ignorance isn’t a bug, it’s a feature. Palin is conceptually and intellectually poor because her politics are not about policies, but a romantic restoration of the ‘real’ America to its rightful place. The primary purpose of politics is not to govern, not to provide services, and not to solve mundane, although often important, problems. For the Palinist, politics first and foremost exists to enable the social restoration of ‘real’ Americans (think about the phrase “red blooded American”) and the emotional and social advantages that restoration would provide to its followers (obviously, if you’re not a ‘real’ American, you might view this as a bad thing…). Practicalities of governance, such as compromise and worrying about reality-based outcomes, actually get in the way. Why risk having your fantasy muddied by reality?

In this way, symbols and short phrases are the goal, not a means (although others, such as corporations and lobbyists, are willing to co-opt the emotions these symbols generate to further their own agendas).

I think mainstream pundits are starting to grasp this (boldface mine):

The incoherence on display was truly astonishing, even by tea party standards. Recall that this shutdown/debt limit extortion crisis was the explicit plan of House Republicans. Republicans have openly admitted that such a crisis must be used to get rid of Obamacare precisely because their loss in the last election leaves them no alternative. As Paul Ryan said last month: “The reason this debt limit fight is different is, we don’t have an election around the corner where we feel we are going to win and fix it ourselves…we are stuck with this government another three years.”

And yet, these tea partiers were absolutely incandescent with rage at Obama that the national parks are shut down. This was the plan, don’t you remember? Guys? The only operating principle at work here seems to be “If X is bad, then X is Obama’s fault.”

The total disregard for even the simplest details or logic here, even according to the Republicans’ own frame of reference, underscores again that this crisis has nothing to do with actual policy differences. This is nothing but the politics of reactionary grievance. The details of the situation currently under discussion are basically trivial. Where previous governing crises revolved around fundamental questions of power and race, we’re now talking about the medical device tax, or funding the government for six weeks instead of six months.

Again, this is a feature, not a bug. The Tea Party is a white nationalist movement, and such movements have very goals than most parties. Mainstream pundits need to understand this. The republic needs them to understand this.

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3 Responses to The Growing Recognition of the Palinist Impulse

  1. b0b says:

    The last paragraph seems to be missing a word. “…such movements have very goals than most parties.” What are very goals?

  2. Pingback: The Fundamental Divide Within the Democratic Party | Mike the Mad Biologist

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