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No Dog in that Fight, Mr. President? The Twilight of the Educated Gods

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Palin and the White Working Class

by Christopher Chantrill
June 04, 2011 at 12:30 pm

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SUNDAY MAY 29 and Rolling Thunder marked Sarah Palin’s first incursion into “enemy territory” since 2008, according to Politico’s Molly Ball. The US northeast is the region that’s “least friendly” to the Tea Party favorite.

Molly might have written that, with her Tea Party base all sewn up, Palin is already reaching out to the northeast, a target-rich environment full of the white working class that has been up for grabs in recent elections. But then, Molly is writing for Politico, not the Wall Street Journal.

There’s a good reason why the white working class is up for grabs. It is the “the most pessimistic and alienated group in American society,” according to Ronald Brownstein in the National Journal. That is no wonder, for “the average high-school-educated, middle-aged man earns almost 10 percent less than his counterpart did in 1980.”

There’s only one problem, according to Brownstein. Minorities have suffered in the recession and have experienced the same wage squeeze as the white working class. But minorities are optimistic about their future.

We know why. Time was that the white working class was the darling of the liberals. But then the liberals soured on them. In the 70s working-class whites were bigoted Archie Bunkers; in the 2000s, “bitter clingers.” Liberals decided that all along they had really loved women and minorities, and they became the darlings of the liberals, extolled and boosted in the university, the halls of Congress, in stock photos and on stage and screen.

Of course, the white working class has only itself to blame. Put not your trust in princes, says the Good Book. Back in the 19th century the working class had built its own authentic social institutions, the labor unions, the fraternal associations, the Methodist and Baptist Churches, from scratch. But then the liberals came calling with flattery and free money. There’s a line for that too: The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

When you are living in the Garden of Eden, the darlings of the liberals, life is peachy: good jobs, good wages, benefits, health care, pensions. But when the liberals decide to change you out for a newer model, then it’s back to the real world, only now the unions are wholly-owned subsidiaries of the Democratic Party and the fraternal associations have withered away into irrelevance. But for the “pessimistic and alienated” in this fallen world, there is God and guns and Sarah Palin.

You can see why the party professionals don’t take Palin seriously. “While many of Palin’s likely rivals have worked to build campaign organizations in early nominating states such as Iowa or New Hampshire, Palin has taken no concrete steps to begin a presidential campaign,” writes AP’s Philip Elliott. The way people talk, you’d think Sarah Palin was a political newcomer, rather than a 20-year veteran of elected politics.

But there is another, bigger, reason why the Republican insiders find it so difficult to take Palin seriously. Their game is political chess, a game of movement, and Palin plays Chinese Go or weiqi, a game of position, where you put down counters and never move them. With Going Rogue, she put down a counter that positioned herself as a “commonsense conservative.” With America by Heart she positioned herself as a “commonsense constitutional conservative.” Now, with her “One Nation” bus tour, she is mounting a “campaign to educate and energize Americans about our nation’s founding principles, in order to promote the Fundamental Restoration of America.”

That’s the new counter that Sarah Palin is placing on the board as she moves up the northeast corridor: the “Fundamental Restoration of America.” It has quite a ring to it. It is just the line you would want to take if you were running for president against Barack Obama and his czars, his crony green capitalists, his waivers-for-friends ObamaCare, his regulatory blizzard, his jobless recovery, and his 1967-borders foreign policy. With “Restoration,” Palin appeals to the patriotism of the white working class without getting into tricky economic details.

But what about women and minorities? Isn’t Palin going down a cul-de-sac bidding for the white working class, a demographic in decline? It could be, but don’t forget that the day will come when women and minorities will no longer be the “darlings of the liberals” either. Women might wake up one day and decide that they believe in marriage and children; minorities might opt one day for jobs, jobs, jobs, instead of debt, debt, debt.

A warning to you women and minorities: Stand up to your liberal “partner” on these issues and you too will soon recall in your lonely pessimism and alienation the old injunction. You’ll say: forget the princes. Put not your trust in politicians.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990


Mutual Aid

In 1911... at least nine million of the 12 million covered by national insurance were already members of voluntary sick pay schemes. A similar proportion were also eligible for medical care.
Green, Reinventing Civil Society


Education

“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State


Living Under Law

Law being too tenuous to rely upon in [Ulster and the Scottish borderlands], people developed patterns of settling differences by personal fighting and family feuds.
Thomas Sowell, Conquests and Cultures


German Philosophy

The primary thing to keep in mind about German and Russian thought since 1800 is that it takes for granted that the Cartesian, Lockean or Humean scientific and philosophical conception of man and nature... has been shown by indisputable evidence to be inadequate. 
F.S.C. Northrop, The Meeting of East and West


Knowledge

Inquiry does not start unless there is a problem... It is the problem and its characteristics revealed by analysis which guides one first to the relevant facts and then, once the relevant facts are known, to the relevant hypotheses.
F.S.C. Northrop, The Logic of the Sciences and the Humanities


Chappies

“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison


Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


Action

The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


Churches

[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


Conversion

“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh


Living Law

The recognition and integration of extralegal property rights [in the Homestead Act] was a key element in the United States becoming the most important market economy and producer of capital in the world.
Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital


presented by Christopher Chantrill

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