May 29, 2009
The Palin Seminar on Moderate WomenBy Christopher Chantrill
Sarah Palin's speech to the folks at Vanderburgh County Right to Life last month didn't seem to get on the national political radar. But if you get a chance to review the YouTube video, it's worth it.
Governor Palin (R-AK) may have been giving a speech to conservative pro-lifers in Evansville, Indiana, on April 16, 2009, but the speech was an arrow aimed right over the heads of the conservatives present towards the hearts of moderate women voters everywhere.
And that, if you ask me, is the future of conservatism.
Palin's first big theme that night was "gifting." You men all know how important gifting is to women. If you don't stop at the store on the way home tonight and buy her a bunch of flowers, because you are already behind the 8-ball.
Palin told her audience that it was the gifts that persuaded her to come to Evansville. First it was the chocolates on her birthday. Then it was the donuts and the pastries. Finally, it was the hockey stick from the Evansville Youth Hockey Association. And try to guess husband Todd's favorite movie? Of course, it's Hoosiers.
Then there was Palin's home-state boosterism, her "teacher" theme. With a disarming reference to her school-teacher parents she reeled off a host of facts about Alaska to her Hoosier hosts. I hadn't really thought about it before, but women do participate, as enthusiastically as George F. Babbitt, in the boosting of their homes, their hometown, and their home state. Home is where the heart it.
Finally, when Palin got down to the pro-life part of her speech, she explained her beliefs using a "dilemma" theme. Conservative men have principles. Liberal women have issues. But moderate women have dilemmas.
Palin talked about finding out she was pregnant in her forties, about finding out that her baby had that extra chromosome. She talked about the love that flooded her when she finally had Trig in her arms. Disarmingly, she spoke about how she thought, for a fleeting moment, about getting rid of her little problem when she out of town. Nobody would know.
Fortunately, our liberal friends didn't publicize the speech. So the MSM missed the chance to tell moderate women what to think about it. And unless moderate women are carefully taught, they'll receive the speech, and the ones that come after, as a conversation over coffee.
They will get to appreciate the moment when Palin mentions how they are criticizing her for leaving Alaska to come talk to the folks in Indiana. They will get to hear about a couple of disastrous sit-down interviews. Women are good at this faux self-deprecation -- when they mean, between the lines, how dare they!
Some of you alert readers may recall that I called for a woman-centered conservatism in 2007 here, in 2008 here, and this year here.
There's no rocket science about the need for a woman-centered conservatism. It stares at you out of the numbers over at usgovernmentspending.com. Our rulers are spending about a trillion dollars a year on health care, a trillion dollars a year on education, and half a trillion dollars a year on welfare. Health care, education, and welfare are things that women care about.
But there's a problem, a problem that, in a world without an MSM, would have women up in arms. The trillions of dollars are not being spent in sensitive, compassionate ways that respond directly to the needs of mothers and adult daughters. Instead, it is spent in rigid, compulsory, government programs devised by experts and administered by workers with lifetime tenure.
You may have noticed that the purpose of this administrative system is not to help people. It is to reward its servitors. That is how a vertical system of social organization is supposed to work, whether it is a feudal system, a political machine, or a welfare state.
If conservative are ever to break the back of the welfare state, and introduce a horizontal and sociable society in place of the cruel and rigid liberal administrative state, then our task is clear. We have to persuade moderate women that the present setup does a terrible job of helping them care for their children, their mothers, and themselves.
It shouldn't be that hard. After all, the current system does do a terrible job of caring for people. It puts the children that women care for in custodial institutions for most of their childhood. Its assault on marriage subjects adult women to frightening insecurities when they need security most during their child-raising years. And it puts the aging mothers that loving daughters worry about in custodial institutions.
But every message needs a messenger. The question confronting conservatives is: who is to be our messenger?
Who will talk to moderate women and talk their language?
How about a woman with executive experience who knows all about "gifting" and "dilemmas" and can fearlessly skipper a fishing dory right through the surf up onto the beach?