Palin is a Myth

Last week a client I've had for years came in and she was in a lather about Sarah Palin. "We don't need a pit bull in lipstick to run the country," she said, "and McCain, I'm sorry, but he's not looking so good lately. I keep looking for you to write something on what's going on but you haven't. Are you going to?"

The reason I haven't written anything is that it doesn't do any good. I began to really grasp that when I listened to a talk on CSPAN by U.C. Berkeley Professor George Lakoff. Like most other progressives, I was advancing arguments based on logic. But the Republican base is not swayed by logic, and in fact is proud to take stands against it. They are the Lord's army.

I can remember being a little kid among the flock at the First Baptist Church, in South Pittsburg, Tennessee, while we all sang out that song: "I may never fly over Germany, march in the infantry, shoot at the enemy, but I'm in the Lord's Army!" Notice the use of the word, "may" as the antecedent to "never." They will cheefully shoot your ass if the Lord wants it that way. And how do you find the Lord? You look in the direction of who has the most authority. The Republican base consists of the third of the population which always sides with the most rigid authoritarians. This isn't an accident or an anomaly.

Lakoff points out that the entire split in the country is essentially between the Old Testament model of the Father and the New Testament model of the Father. The government is a metaphor for the role of the father. The people are beneath the Father, who protects them, but demands they behave according to some strict rules. That's the conservative position. The progressive position is that in order to live together in diversity, people have to acknowledge those instinctual tribal behaviors are there, but that if we don't get beyond them, we are at an evolutionary dead end and will separate into warring factions. The progressive god has moved from instinctual man to psychological man.

Just as a quick example, the genius discovery of Christianity was that human sacrifice is a way of removing shadow projection, but that the same effect can be accomplished by acting out the pattern of the sacrifice, in a ritual where no actual humans are killed. This actually does remove the shadow if it is done with faith and attention to detail. The human sacrifice is replaced by an archetypal figure who loves the community so much he is willing to take on everybody's shadow and be sacrificed in order to remove the sins. The only difference is that the sacrifice is voluntary and symbolic.

By acting out this ritual the shadow removal is no longer drenched in real blood, but metaphorical blood.

The reason I'm going into all of this is that Sarah Palin is part of the right wing base, so that she cannot see the psychological purpose of such a ritual. She is among those who are literal minded, and think there is some special reward for them if they just believe certain events happened in a certain way. Never mind that memory is always inexact and the further away you get from the original event the further away you get from an accurate memory. It is not a memory, but a story handed down by the authorities who demand it be adhered to. The alternative is being kicked out of the group and thus losing the protection of the authorities. This threat of social ostracizing was the only law the early Navajos had, or needed. It kept people in line.

Getting back to Professor Lakoff, he explains that the progressives are stuck in a 17th century frame of reference, in which there is an assumption that if you lay out the facts, and demonstrate the logic of an argument, people will accept it. To the contrary, he argues, the conservatives do not think in this way. They are organized top down, and they receive and repeat the story they are given. They are organized like an army and they function like an army. There is a bible published annually which contains not just the issues to be addressed, but the words to be used in order to frame the debate.

The framing of the story is how conservatives think. Their brains are wired that way. Evidence which contradicts the way they have the story framed is simply rejected as not relevant. This works whether the story is Jesus Christ or Sarah Palin. The evidence that Christ is an archetype which allows people of many different tribes and races and religions to get along together, by providing an alternative to human sacrifice, is not important. It's intellectual, pinhead crap. The important thing is to keep repeating the story as it is framed by the authorities. That story is a mythology about certain people being under the umbrella of his protection and others being damned. If this sounds familiar it is because the template of the earlier system is in this case simply placed over the new character, and the evolutionary advance is lost.

Whoever Sarah Palin is, she is not the story being sold. She is far down the serving line from the top authorities, which is what makes her attractive. Like Bush, she doesn't know enough to ever get out from under her handlers. They just sell her biography as a crusader, a reformer, and a maverick. That it isn't objectively true doesn't matter. Even when the facts are brought out and the claims are exposed as lies and manipulations of truth, this doesn't matter.

What matters is the story which is projected onto her. A savior who can pull the Republican Party out of the fire after eight years of disastrous management decisions. You just gather the campers together and tell them about the pit bull lady who stood up to Mr. Big. A superhero who fights corruption and evil doers wherever they may be.

Palin has been a t.v. anchor and she knows how to read a tele-prompter. She has been trained to look at the camera and imagine she's talking to her best friend. The GOP has expensive writers on staff who can craft a speech for her to read. But that is all appearances. When she's on her own with a journalist, she displays an ignorance which rivals that of the incumbent. No wonder the one demographic vote the Republicans always lose is that of educated people.

There's not much to do but marvel at the situation.

Posted: Fri - September 12, 2008 at 01:19 PM