Sarah Palin and Class Politics

Posted Monday September 8, 2008 by John Gunders in |

I was having a debate about Sarah Palin with a self-described conservative friend recently, and he remarked how “the left” (leave that indifferentiation aside for the moment) had gone ballistic in its hatred for her. Not more than the vitriol “the right” reserves for Hillary Clinton I suspect, but I feel he has a point.

Much of the criticism is focussed on her inexperience (a question that must be asked of the Obama camp as well, to be sure), but a certain amount has caricatured her as a red-neck, gun totin’, caribou killing hillbilly. Now the red-neck, gun totin’ brigade has not done a lot for US credibility in last eight years, and I reserve my deepest levels of contempt for people who find it necessary to demonstrate their superiority over animals by killing them with high-power, precision targeted weapons, but I wonder whether the same level of condemnation would be aroused if Palin was male? Larvatus Prodeo canvasses a similar question here, and some of the comments are revealing. “Gun totin’ hick” isn’t a good look in relation to US foreign policy, so why weren’t these accusations levelled at George W Bush, or at John McCain?

Predicably, Republicans are squealing “sexism.” Well at least they’ve learned the word: eventually they’ll realise that a woman doesn’t have to be “one of the boys” to be considered for high office. I don’t think all this criticism is sexist, but there is certainly an imbalance in the progressive commentary, and it wouldn’t hurt their credibility if they examined that. I believe there are more than enough reasons to argue against Palin as VP without descending to class-based stereotypes.

It seems that most commentators have respected Palin’s call to leave her daughter alone. For my part, I’d prefer it if they skipped the hick-baiting, and asked questions about how Palin’s policy of abstinence and narrow definitions of sexual morality will address the problems of unwanted pregnancy, when they don’t even work in her own family.

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