Palinism

A few Friday nights ago, David Brooks no doubt scored serious points with NewsHour listeners when he said, “Every second we spend talking about Sarah Palin is a second of our lives we’ll never get back.”

Catchy soundbite, but he was wrong.

We need to talk more about what her parochial, nostalgic, oddly vague and exclusionary worldview means for not just our national politics, but education reform.

Palinism the ideology—a set of conservative political beliefs that rests upon a parochial, nostalgic, vague, exclusionary interpretation of U.S. history—is far more pernicious than her easy to make fun of media personality.

Palinism is a litmus test. If we continue to think of students first and foremost as future workers and consumers, and not citizens, its influence will spread and some of its adherents will win elections. Absent a nuanced sense of our nation’s unblemished history and an appreciation for what a vibrant democracy requires of its citizens, our young people will increasingly opt for glossy, symbolic style at the expense of gritty, grounded substance.

Recently, just for David Brooks and you, I sacrificed 197 seconds of my life watching SarahPac, a brilliant marketing video of Sarah’s bus tour of the U.S. Actually, now I’ve sacrificed over 15 minutes since I’ve watched it five times.

It’s fascinating on several levels. Exercise your citizenship and watch it.

Notice the following:

• In the midst of the hundreds of people that appear in the commercial, there’s one black veteran. Palinism borrows from a recent Modern Family sketch, “White is right.”

• The phrases “restore what’s right,” “restore the good,” and “we need a fundamental restoration” repeat throughout.

• “Founding” and “foundation” also repeat throughout. It’s like a news station repeating the phrase “fair and balanced” over and over. Maybe, if the populace is half asleep, hypnosis works.

• Painfully vague catch phrases are sprinkled throughout including, “be in touch with our nation’s history,” “so we can learn from it,” “move forward,” “all that is good about America,” “effect positive change,” and “America is the exceptional nation.” The classic hallmark of a really bad first year college essay.

Absent a critical nuanced understanding of U.S. history, government, and foreign policy, the videos sophisticated mix of traditional American symbols, music, and vague repetitive narrative would probably work wonders on large percentages of today’s secondary school students.

An older woman near the end gushes about Palin’s “courage and strength” and concludes, “she has it all.”

If we continue to preach the math and science gospel and mindlessly apply business principles to schooling, our youth might conclude the next Sarah Palin and the one after her have it all.

In which case Palin’s videographers might just win the battle of ideas.

2 thoughts on “Palinism

  1. If Palin had any idea about what the founding father thought about shallow-minded twits like herself she probably wouldn’t be pretending to know as much as she does.

    If we asked her what the Virginia Plan was would she describe it as some contemporary effort today to restore “America’s greatness”? Would she be shocked to find that James Madison wrote the plan before the beginning of the Constitutional Convention in 1787 and within it was the idea that the President of the new government they were in Philadelphia to form should be elected NOT by “we the people” but by the new national legislature.

    In fact many of the delegates there were leery to give the common man a direct vote in the process (women weren’t even considered for the vote then) and some who did suggested that they be men who were land property owners, which better than half weren’t. Is this the kind of “foundation” she would restore?

  2. Some aspects of our foundation have evolved for the better! I was mostly struck by how white her representative citizens were. An article in today’s paper said the latest census revealed that the majority (over half, but not sure by exactly how much) of American children today under the age of two are minorities. Get ready, Sarah Palin. Things are not going to stay the same.

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