May 20, 2013
Written by Nicole Narea
Wednesday, 08 June 2011 23:00
For most GOP presidential hopefuls, anything but Republican red would be a fashion faux pas. This is perhaps with good reason, given that Sarah Palin’s head-to-toe black leather was not an altogether flattering look for grass-roots conservatism in her recent joyride through Washington, D.C., streets in the Rolling Thunder rally. Her growling Harley Davidson, emblazoned with a picture of George W. Bush and the phrase “Miss me?,” is a PR push to launch her countrywide ‘One Nation’ bus tour, meant to educate Americans about the principles of the Founding Fathers, and what she calls a “commonsense conservative revolution.”In a column of mine two months ago, I addressed the issue of voter responsibility to democracy, particularly among members of the millennial generation like myself. Now, it’s the politicians’ turn for admonishment. I cannot speak to my opinions about Palin’s policies because she has failed to delineate them in specific terms. Rather than campaigning on substantive ideas, she advertises symbols of her particular brand of conservatism, showcasing images of her various antics — revving up her motorcycle, snowmobiling and (how could we forget?) elk hunting — by means of mass media. Such a strategy is not satisfactory for me as a young voter in the 2012 elections because, though she among other politicians may think otherwise, I will not fall for cheap marketing tactics.
Yet the fans who greeted her at the Pentagon parking lot at the rally, screaming “Sarah, we love you!,” would deign to disagree. She is once again riding the wave of her star power, acting coy with reporters regarding a potential presidential bid. If nothing else, the media attention will contribute to her growing commercial empire. Sarah Palin’s Alaska premiered with a record-breaking five million viewers on TLC, according to Nielsen. Her memoir entitled Going Rogue became one of the best-selling nonfiction books of all time with 300,000 copies sold on the first day of sales, according to The Guardian. And her latest capital venture is a two-hour documentary about her ascent from small-town “hockey mom” to vice presidential candidate entitled The Undefeated, portraying her as a martyr for the resurgence of Reagan republicanism. I’ll leave it to Mrs. Reagan to opine on that count.
Tina Fey caricatures aside, Palin’s public continues to embrace her. According to a May 19 U.S. News poll, 12% of likely GOP voters said they would vote for her in the primaries, placing her in second only to frontrunner Mitt Romney. Is this truly the state of American politics — can a candidate’s celebrity-hood, propelled by reality TV, mount a serious presidential campaign? I wish it were not the case because politicians should elevate societal discourse, not cater to the viewers of TLC.
The fact that a candidate who is relying on celebrity status can be included in a race of what should be America’s best and brightest can only be a reflection of voter apathy and disengagement. We don’t care enough to educate ourselves about the issues that govern politics and, consequently, some of us may fall prey to campaign strategies like Palin’s because they oversimplify issues that are necessarily complex and multi-faceted.
While most politicians “dumb-down” the real issues for campaign purposes, her appeal to what she views as an increasingly less intellectual voter base is so blatant to the point of being disrespectful. I’d like to think that, in the time since Katie Couric famously asked her what newspapers she read, Mrs. Palin has actually read a few and now has substance. I can dream, can’t I?
If we multiply this apathy over a period of 50 years, feeding a political landscape characterized by voter ignorance of all things substantive, our country may become a very different place. Indeed, the effects have already begun to manifest. Obama’s re-election campaign faces no strong opposition from the right, thus hindering democracy. Republicans are floundering — a potential frontrunner Mike Huckabee dropped out of the race to continue his weekly television show on Fox News. There is something seriously wrong with the political process when politicians decide against running for President in order to star on TV shows, and reality TV stars are the ones running for President. The world is an immensely more complicated place these days and voters of all ages, political parties, and backgrounds should “just say no” to politicians’ substance abuse.
Nicole Narea is a junior from Greenwich at Convent of the Heart.
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