mis• an• thrope mis –uh n-throhp, miz -] -noun a) a hater of humankind. b) person who dislikes or distrusts other people or mankind in general
Sarah Palin is on a national tour to position herself for a run for President of the United States. She has a reality show, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” and a new book out. The title of the new book is “America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag.” Like her first book, it will carry more propaganda about family values along with a thinly disguised distaste for Americans who do not agree with her anachronistic political world views.
Sarah Palin is popular because she is America’s favorite brand of misanthrope. She is pretty and that is supposed to excuse her underlying mean streak. A misanthrope of Sarah’s breed seldom feels the need to explain herself. She quit her job running the state of Alaska mid-term and people call her a courageous visionary. But what character traits lurk beneath the actions of a person who chooses, on a whim, not to serve her political term in full? Plain and simple, her ambitions trumped her commitment to service.
Whatever ambitions she possesses, however ill-conceived or covertly ambitious, she is not letting advice from those with more political experience limit that ambition. Karl Rove distrusts her. Barbara Bush wishes she’d go away. Newt Gingrich would prefer not to have to think about her. But certain talk show hosts and network magnates find her compelling. So she trundles on, spitting out sound bites, Facebook posts and snarky Tweets to communicate her likes and dislikes. And now the game is ramping up. She’s been hired by for a gig by Fox TV and her reality show attracted an initial audience of 5 million people. Her bald-faced ambition is showing more than ever.
A certain brand of Americans places high value on this brand of ambition over and above principle. Mark Twain once observed, “All you need is ignorance and confidence and success is sure.”
The quote exactly describes Sarah Palin. She has launched the naive answers of a beauty queen to become a successful spokesperson for ignorant overachievers. A great many Americans think her clever for the effort. Cleverness is a another supposed virtue admired by those struggling to get a leg up themselves, which describes the Tea Party.
Cleverness is tricky, and tricky equates to smart in America, even if they aren’t exact equals. Best of all, Sarah Palin tosses her trickiness around with a wink and a nod, making her followers think she is outwitting all those intellectuals and liberals who only think they are so smart. So here’s the rub: Sarah Palin’s supporters are basically betting she can trick America into what they consider a brighter future.
But what does that ostensibly brighter future really look like?
Sarah Palin portrays herself as the anti-politician, an enemy of big government and whatever else she defines as evil. When it comes to communication skills, she is Ronald Reagan in a red dress and high heels.
She calls the press “liberal” as if that were a bad thing. In fact the definition and code of ethics governing real journalism depends wholeheartedly on the decidedly “liberal enterprise” of seeking facts to determine truth over accepting whatever people tell you to think is true. Of course that illustration also illuminates the difference between what Fox News does, and real journalism. It is no wonder they hired Sarah Palin.
Sarah Palin does not like being pinned down with the facts. They bother her, and she dismisses intellectualism as a fussy confusion over real convictions. Those liberal thinkers who choose well-crafted reason over folksy common sense are simply out of bounds in her world.
She’s gaining some strange converts as a result of this approach. Recently none other than conservative talk show host Dennis Miller congratulated Sarah Palin for her common sense over intellectualism. Has Dennis Miller forgotten the parable of the frog in the kettle where the water is heating up? Perhaps he thinks his own brand of cool and quirky intellectualism will not allow him to boil in his own juices. Or perhaps he’s simply ceased caring all that much what really happens in the world, which from the general tone of his show seems to be the case.
Sarah Palin is also anti-feminist, having roots in the form of evangelical Christianity exonerating her from catering to the humanist brand of feminism focused on social, civic and financial justice for women. Instead dear Sarah prefers to act as if she embodies every virtue a woman should care to possess, even some she won’t discuss in public. Her ambition and luck fill in the rest of the Palin mystique.
Lord knows it can become difficult to criticize someone who has become so well known. It is indeed difficult to put a finger on what makes the serious-minded so queasy in her very public presence. Conservatives prefer to credit her MILFY hotness for their distraction. Liberals merely want to puke. Some might stick fingers down their own throats to express their dissent.
That is exactly why the misanthropes of the world feel they have so much to gain from supporting Sarah Palin. Her aura blinds critics even as it obscures the nastiness lurking behind her public image. She resembles that snake coiled up on the yellow flag under the words “Don’t tread on me,” only Sarah’s symbolic snake has a big lump in the middle of it from having eaten some of its own kind. Rather than a modern day Eve threatened by the biblical serpent, Sarah Palin is the serpent herself, turning everyone’s words into threats of dissolution.
Why else would she falsely accuse the new health care legislation of creating what she branded “death panels?” In fact we essentially already had Death Panels operating in the free market health care system by excluding them based on pre-existing conditions such as cancer. But that fact inconveniently conflicts with Sarah Palin’s message that Big Government is Bad. So she coils up like a serpent and hisses “Death Panels” so that her followers will suitably gather behind her and recoil as well at the thought.
By now we should realize that Sarah Palin’s politics and the brand of faith driving them are a mess of ugly, poorly realized ideologies. She is a creationist, which to many people means that her convictions are solid, biblically-based and firm. But her creationism stems from a biblically literal worldview that ignores solid scriptural evidence that literalism and legalism are both firmly hated by God and Christ. Such legalism leads to the desire to control and force your worldview on others, the Bible warns. The fact that up to 50% of Americans holds a similar biblically literal worldview is only further proof that people from the dawn of faith have gotten the message of God all wrong.
Some say it is wrong to criticize the faith of others, that we should not judge lest we be judged. But the Christian faith has let its dark side rule the minds of believers for far too long. And in a country where freedom from faith is guaranteed along with freedom of faith, it is not acceptable to give religious zealots a free pass and keys to the White House. Preventing the likes of Sarah Palin and her beauty contestant version of faith from ascending to power is therefore a noble act in every respect.
Her brand of literalism says that human beings should hate the world we live in, that the larger mass of humanity is doomed and that human beings are intrinsically designed to mess things up. This is the worldview of the misanthrope, a dark commentary manifested by someone who hates humankind by faith and on principle, even if they smile while doing it. Certainly it is not the ideal worldview for the potential leader of the free world.