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Sarah Palin Vice Presidential Candidate: The Strangest Choice Made Perfect Sense

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The big news right now on the television and all over the internet is the announcement that John McCain will name Sarah Palin his running mate. The selection of the Alaskan governor (governess?) came as a big surprise, but it shouldn’t. Despite the criticism she will receive, she was the perfect choice and an example of the expert strategy employed by the Republican Party.The huge intellectually dishonest mismatch of rhetoric and policy in the McCain campaign’s choosing of an relatively young candidate with little political experience while their strongest rhetorical weapon against Obama has been to claim that he lacks the experience necessary to lead the nation was too obvious to go unnoticed. It’s definitely going to make it more difficult to make this accusation stick, but it’s a calculated risk that shrewd Republican strategists have decided does not outweigh the benefits of making this choice.

This decision is a classic example of strategic politicking in the Republican style. This is something they’re very good at, and they stick with what works. It’s all a matter of numbers. This is the same method they used to retain administrative power for eight years and what seats they retain in Congress. In the last Congressional election, they did lose seats and control, but considering how much damage they’ve done to the people of the nation and the world, and how much good this has done for their own wealthy class at our expense, their well-oiled political machine is responsible for any support they retain and any elections they win, and this election should not be taken for granted.

Americans have a tendency to want to take the moral high ground. This is why we like to hear candidates denounce negative campaigning, when in fact, if we really only have two choices, many of the reasons to choose one party are defined by alternatives. Most Americans like to think of themselves as being “in the middle” in politics, and say they are not in favor of either party, that they are not part of political conflict, and that they would vote for their favorite candidate regardless of what party they were in. This is not because we are unable to choose, or do not want to take sides or judge. This is because we want to feel like we are above the conflict, above politics, transcendent, but we are not and should not be. Democracy is too important to be seen on such narrow terms, and when our democracy has been so neglected that it has been taken over by self-interested groups attempting to separate the nation into rich and poor and stay on the rich side, the time comes to take a stand.

This is why middle-of-the-road politics are so unsuccessful, because on one level we want to be above conflict, and on the other we want to do what’s right. A good political strategy speaks to people on the level which convinces them to go out and vote for them. The Democrats have had little success with the middle of the road, and hopefully Barack Obama, while still a bit too conventional for my tastes, will make our country start to lean the other way.

In the last election, while George W. Bush was going around trying to make himself seem like a strong leader, the Republican Party was conducting covert campaigns through local church leaders in crucial districts, attempting to get out the Christian vote. This was an important strategy which received very little media coverage. They also made sure that the most extreme far-right voters would feel an urgent need to get out and vote, and I guarantee you that they did. In a split electorate, if you only half-convince the large groups of people, like the middle-ground voters, some of them will vote for you, and some of them will vote for the other guy, but a lot of them will just stay home. But if you convince a small group of extreme voters to vote for you, you will receive their full support.

Palin was practically engineered to get into all the little knooks and crannies of the voting populace where McCain might not reach. She will speak to the conservative voters, the ones who might have been less than enthusiastic about this election if they remember the harsh criticism of McCain coming from Rush Limbaugh and Anne Coulter during the primaries, where they claimed they would vote Democrat if McCain won. This idea has vanished into thin air, of course. Palin’s role is not so much to balance the ticket, but to weigh it as a final selling point for these voters to show their numbers.

Palin’s main job is to encourage and exploit a split in the Democratic Party among women voters. The idea is, if all you wanted was a woman candidate, here she is. Her first action as vice presidential candidate was to make a speech mentioning Hillary Clinton loud and clear, and saying she was going to finish her unfinished work in shattering the glass ceiling completely. Strong words when you consider the fact that, while Clinton was presumably a frontrunner in the primaries not because she is a woman but because of her extensive proximity to the world of politics and her own important political career, Palin was specifically chosen for her job because she is a woman, in order to exploit women voters. I hope the “feminist vote” will realize how ridiculous it would be to vote for McCain because of her.

Lastly, she is the Alaskan governor. This is going to be an important factor in the election. One of the major differences between McCain and Obama’s campaigns, and something that McCain will be doing his best to exploit, is the difference in approach to the foreign oil dependency problem. McCain promotes unlimited drilling and Obama promotes alternative fuel. The answer here is obvious to me, I’ve always been a proponent of a radical conversion to alternative fuel sources in a 10-year time period, but for people who don’t take environmental issues into account or think global warming is a lie, and who also seem to think that oil is and forever will be abundant in our generous land, when oil becomes such an important economic and national security issue, we can’t just sit on the oil we’ve got. While she has no lack of oppositors in Alaska, her place on the ticket is a huge promotion of drilling policy and almost like permission from Alaska to be drilled.

A lot of talk is being made right now that this is going to be a tough sell for McCain. My prediction is that this will not be the case among Republicans. They will accept her with open arms. The idea that her lack of experience will expose the McCain campaign’s hypocrisy is a moot point, because those who may currently support McCain that no longer would because of this are far fewer than those conservatives who will be enthused about this candidate, and who are famous for their blindness to hypocrisy among their leaders.

Palin is obviously not qualified to be president, less so than McCain, and even Larry King is now talking about how old McCain is and how he may die in office. That’s like the Grim Reaper himself telling you not to make plans for the next eight years. It is important that the vice president be qualified for president in the event of the president’s death, but this is not as likely as it suddenly seems to be. McCain has had skin cancer in the past, but he’s also going to be checked daily for skin anomalies. I’ve done some research on skin cancer for the content articles bad economic times have forced me to write, and if, unlike millions of Americans, you have the economic power or health coverage to see a doctor whenever you want, you can have an infinite number of individual skin cancers removed in their earliest stages and never get sick.

McCain is also receiving some criticism because he is not personally familiar with the person he chose as his vice presidential candidate. This is not uncommon. The decision is completely strategic, and the actual well-being of the United States and its people is not necessarily an important part of this choice. In the 1972 campaign, George McGovern was not personally familiar with his VP candidate, Thomas Eagleton, who later became his downfall. During the same election in which the Nixon campaign was caught bugging the Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate Hotel, someone stole Eagleton’s medical records showing that he had received shock treatment and released them to the press. A controversial enough candidate, McGovern lost votes both on the left and in the middle when he was forced to drop Eagleton from the ticket. McGovern told Hunter Thompson in an interview for Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 that he made the final decision because of the fact that he didn’t trust Eagleton with the presidency if he died. It turns out Eagleton may have done more harm to McGovern than he knew; Robert Novak posthumously named him as the source of the Amnesty, Acid, Abortion quote.

McCain, on the other hand, probably won’t see much controversy for his candidate, but the choice was most definitely strategic in nature and intimate knowledge of the candidate is not necessary. It will be part of a strategy to move voters in specific areas, down to the district, in swing states, continuing a long bipartisan tradition of using the electoral college to make the opinion of the majority of the public irrelevant.

The McCain campaign is not going to suffer the publicity they’ve received for making this controversial choice. Now Palin is being questioned, but when the conservatives come out in her support, it will be a positive story for McCain, and an excellent mediatic leadup to the Republican National Convention, where Palin will seal all doubts for conservative voters and they’ll both come out looking golden among their base. It’s excellent strategy, but it’s bad for us as a nation. We need to analyze this decision for what it is, a strategic decision to move conservative voters, to appeal to voters who want a woman candidate, and to reinforce McCain’s energy policy, and take the thunder out of this media storm.


Written by Alex (Capitalocracy)

August 31, 2008 at 10:31 am

5 Responses

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    September 28, 2008 at 5:45 pm

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