When people are hurting, they will turn to almost anyone who offers hope – even if that hope is nothing but a mirage.
Today, as nearly one out of every five Americans are without work or are seriously underemployed, there is much hopelessness and this is virgin territory for demagogues.
Enter Sarah Palin.
There’s a tendency for many of us to laugh at her tortured and twisted rhetoric, but it has an appeal for many Americans. We must not belittle what motivates the thousands of people who stand in lines in the cold to get Sarah to sign her book.
Many of these Americans feel abandoned by their government in their efforts to regain gainful employment. And, Sarah Palin is feeding off this feeling by raising even more fears of the unknown from a government that thus far has been unable to put people back to work. It’s easy pickings for her.
Many of these dispossessed would obviously be better served with the traditional policies of liberals and the Democratic Party. After all, it is the progressive policies of the New Deal that brought us unemployment compensation, Social Security, strong labor laws and the social safety net – policies that today offer the only real protection against even more terrible economic fortunes for workers.
Sarah Palin offers the same type of demagoguery that attracted so many unemployed Germans to embrace the promises of a better life offered by Adolph Hitler in the 1930s; and, the Depression-era promises of Lousiana’s Huey Long (who actually did provide some improvements to that state’s poor while milking it for his own personal corruption); and, the promises offered by Alabama’s George Wallace in his own brand of racism by having poor whites blame African-Americans for their economic distress.
We mock these supporters of Sarah Palin at our own peril. Many of these folks are hard-working Americans and they find solace in her promises; as misguided as is the thinking of these folks, they will help vote to determine the future direction of the nation.
It’s time to take our focus off the lies and distortion in Palin’s “Going Rogue” book and concentrate on the people she and her ilk are so effectively courting.
The Obama Administration has been too closely identified with the Wall Street crowd that created the current economic crisis; Obama’s appointment of Tim Geitner and continued support of Ben Bernanke are witness to that.
Job creation schemes are a must, for one thing. It’s time for bold action from our government so that many of these folks will see benefit in Obama, the Democrats and “government.” For an excellent analysis of why job creation activities may be stalling in the White House, read Paul Krugman’s column in the New York Times of Monday, Nov. 23, 2009.
Once people see jobs and security, they will no longer find the quitter (Sarah Palin) to be so attractive. Until then, she is a demagogue in the making.