Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Let Sarah Palin Launch A Third Party

(image via sun-sentinel)

"Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out."
--Robert Graves, I, Claudius.

There was some serious talk that Sarah Palin might form a third party in the immediate aftermath of abandoning the governorship of Alaska. Palinologists, with their canaine fidelity, have found oily hints in Sarah's word salad speeches in between the militaristic tough-talk and her clumsy sports metaphors (Exaggerated cough suggesting feigned detachment). Palin's recent, shrill Facebook postings do little to silence that chatter. The argument goes that though the elites of the Republican Party -- Peggy Noonan, David Brooks, William Kristol, Charles Krauthammer -- have all but dismissed her, Palin still has significant support within middle America. Many of those moose eating supporters are locked-and-loaded NRA loving Buchanan Brigaders, Perotistas, Palin-fetishists, conspiracy theorists, America Firsters, disenchanted elderly Hillary Democrats and, of course, the bigots (we can never forget those, can we?). "The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, waistoids," to paraphrase Ed Rooney's loyal secretary Grace in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, "dweebies, dickheads - they all adore her. They think she's a righteous dude (Averted Gaze).

All kidding aside: There is, of course, a strong American tradition of "Outsider" political candidates storming the heartland, attacking the eggheads, bankers and Establishmentarians -- from Andrew Jackson to Theodore Roosevelt to H. Ross Perot to even diehard Palin supporter, Pat Buchanan. Rebelliousness is as American as apple pie (And angry white masculinity). We have, though, come a long way from William Jennings Bryan's fiery 1896 Democratic National Convention "Cross of Gold" speech in Chicago to Palin's little "a pitbull with lipstick" ditty. A long way, to be sure, down.

There are great benefits to a Sarah Palin Third Party. The followers of Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin are like classic American cars that run, instead of gas, on an angry form of populism -- all testosterone and bitterness -- and you can hear it as you turn the ignition key, in their uneven voices, in flashing eyes and flared nostrils. It is emotional; it is primal; it is racial. In the lingo of classic cars: their transmission is shot. Threats against President Obama, the first African-American United States President, have increased 400 per cent from the 3,000 a year or so under President George W. Bush, according to Ronald Kessler, author of In the President’s Secret Service. It is not inconceivable that they might veer towards domestic terrorism or some other form of violence if they continue to feel estranged from the political process for an extended period of time. If Palin were to run as a "Know Nothing" -- pun intended -- candidate, she would probably purify the Republican party of political toxins such as fringe groups like the "Birthers" and, we cannot fail to note, the outright sour tea-partying racists. The AM talk radio crowd and all that. Such an event would allow the Republican party to evolve into something more 21st century, multicultural-friendly, without the dead weight of the past. The Democrat and Republican Parties could then conceivably have a grown-up conversation about the trajectory of the country without the impediment of the knuckle dragging of the nativists. The Republicans would probably veer towards sounding more like the consensus-building David Cameron of the UK (accelerating a perhaps inevitable party trend). Finally, a Sarah Palin-led third party would probably garner about as many votes as George Wallace, who in 1968 received less than 10 million. Significant, yes, but that run is essentially relegated to the dustbin of history. Henri Ross Perot, perhaps the most successful anti-Establishment Third Party candidate of the disaffected in modern history, in 1992 won 19 percent of the presidential vote. Nowadays, though, he is harmless, regarded as the eccentric billionaire that he is.

In many ways the Palinites, the Birthers and the anti-Obama-at-all-costs crowd are more dangerous exerting their influence within the Republican Party. To close with the quote which the now-forgotten Robert Graves put into the quivering mouth of his most memorable character, Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus or -- to the initiated -- Clau-Clau-Claudius, "Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out."

Let Sarah Palin launch her Third Party.

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