I am not a big Palin fan. I am an atheist and not a social conservative in any meaningful sense. In my estimation, her chief virtue is that she annoys and enrages all the right people. However, I do recognize that she does honestly represent a wide and vital section of the America polity. I think the left’s inability to see Palin as a legitimate political figure reveals a great deal about their insular mindset and their deep need to see themselves as superior to other people even at the cost of a loss of political power.
In my previous post on Palin hate as leftwing status-anxiety, an anti-Palin comment by a Mauro jumped out at me as a prime example of how leftists think about themselves and the rest of us. I wanted to go through it in detail to try and explain where these cognitive distortions come from.
I’ll break this up into several posts. In this post, I will examine how Mauro’s comment reveals his intrinsically elitist world view:
Mauro starts with:
… I think that the real issue with her is that she’s basically a walking cliché.
and followed it by:
Honestly, I can’t remember any of her positions right now…
His further comments demonstrate that he really doesn’t understand anything what Palin thinks or even what she has stated. If he doesn’t have even basic knowledge of her positions, how can he say Palin is a cliche?
Easy: When applied to person, a cliche is just a euphemism for a stereotype. Stereotypes are at best statistical descriptions of groups of people that exist solely in the minds of the individuals holding the stereotypes. In short, stereotypes are simplified cartoons that don’t reflect the real people that they purport to describe.
Mauro is clearly working from a cartoonish stereotype. He doesn’t know anything about Palin other than she is not one of his imagined leftist elite. So where does he get his stereotype from in the first place?
It’s not her ideas that are problematic, but her middle-America anti-intellectualism and superstition that is a problem,[emph. added]
Here we see Mauro’s highly typical leftist elitism in its purest form. It’s not Palin’s ideas that he sees as dangerous but simply who she is. By superstition he means “religious” and by anti-intellectualism he means, “refuses to acknowledge how brilliant and infallible people like Mauro are.”
Mauro problem with Palin isn’t that she is unusual, Mauro’s problem with Palin is that he believes her to be an ordinary middle-class American who are themselves unfit to influence public policy
Mauro sees the participation of religious, middle-class Americans in the public discourse as “dangerous for America.” You can’t get more elitist than that.
He hammers home his elitism home with a sledgehammer:
And she drives public opinion; since she’s so popular, when she has some idea, it *becomes* mainstream even if it’s simply ridiculous.
In Mauro’s elitist model of America (“What’s the Matter with Kansas“), it is simply inconceivable that middle-class Americans have their own ideas about political issues. Instead, he believes they can only follow and mimic some rightwing elite, in this case Palin. He believes that, absent that external input, middle-class America is completely politically passive and just stands around thinking and doing nothing.
He cannot conceive that Palin is popular and that sometimes her casual comments prove politically devastating because they crystallize the preexisting ideas and concerns of the middle class. He cannot conceive that many middle-class people see themselves and their ideas reflected in Palin and that is why she is popular.
In the end, leftists’ Palin hatred is hatred of middle-class America itself. In their eyes, Palin and the ordinary Americans who see value in her political stances have committed the cardinal sin of rising beyond their station. They have dared to think for themselves and to designate as a flag carrier someone from outside the elite, someone like themselves.
And that is unforgivable.
In Part II, I will examine how Mauro’s comment reveals the left’s amnesia of its own mistakes and how they use that selective history to feed their elitism.
[Update: I decided to take a slightly different tack in part two. See Palin Dumb? History say “Nope!“]