Palin and the White Working Class

Sunday May 29 and Rolling Thunder marked Sarah Palin's first incursion into "enemy territory" since 2008, according to Politico's Molly Ball.  The US Northeast is the region that's "least friendly" to the Tea Party favorite.

Molly might have written that, with her Tea Party base all sewn up, Palin is already reaching out to the Northeast, a target-rich environment full of the white working class that has been up for grabs in recent elections.  But then, Molly is writing for Politico, not the Wall Street Journal.

There's a good reason why the white working class is up for grabs.  It is the "the most pessimistic and alienated group in American society," according to Ronald Brownstein in the National Journal.  That is no wonder, for "the average high-school-educated, middle-aged man earns almost 10 percent less than his counterpart did in 1980."

There's only one problem, according to Brownstein.  Minorities have suffered in the recession and have experienced the same wage squeeze as the white working class.  But minorities are optimistic about their future.

We know why.  Time was that the white working class was the darling of the liberals.  But then the liberals soured on them.  In the 70s working-class whites were bigoted Archie Bunkers; in the 2000s, "bitter clingers."  Liberals decided that all along they had really loved women and minorities, and they became the darlings of the liberals, extolled and boosted in the university, the halls of Congress, in stock photos, and on stage and screen.

Of course, the white working class has only itself to blame.  Put not your trust in princes, says the Good Book.  Back in the 19th century the working class had built its own authentic social institutions, the labor unions, the fraternal associations, the Methodist and Baptist Churches, from scratch.  But then the liberals came calling with flattery and free money.  There's a line for that too: The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

When you are living in the Garden of Eden, the darlings of the liberals, life is peachy: good jobs, good wages, benefits, health care, pensions.  But when the liberals decide to change you out for a newer model, then it's back to the real world, only now the unions are wholly-owned subsidiaries of the Democratic Party and the fraternal associations have withered away into irrelevance.  But for the "pessimistic and alienated" in this fallen world, there is God and guns and Sarah Palin.

You can see why the party professionals don't take Palin seriously.  The way people talk, you'd think Sarah Palin was a political newcomer, rather than a 20-year veteran of elected politics.

But there is another, bigger reason why the Republican insiders find it so difficult to take Palin seriously.  Their game is political chess, a game of movement, and Palin plays Chinese Go or weiqi, a game of position, where you put down counters and never move them.  With Going Rogue, she put down a counter that positioned herself as a "commonsense conservative."   With America by Heart she positioned herself as a "commonsense constitutional conservative."  Now, with her "One Nation" bus tour, she is mounting a "campaign to educate and energize Americans about our nation's founding principles, in order to promote the Fundamental Restoration of America."

That's the new counter that Sarah Palin is placing on the board as she moves up the Northeast corridor: the "Fundamental Restoration of America."  It has quite a ring to it.  It is just the line you would want to take if you were running for president against Barack Obama and his czars, his crony green capitalists, his waivers-for-friends ObamaCare, his regulatory blizzard, his jobless recovery, and his 1967-borders foreign policy.  With "Restoration," Palin appeals to the patriotism of the white working class without getting into tricky economic details. 

But what about women and minorities?  Isn't Palin going down a cul-de-sac bidding for the white working class, a demographic slice in decline?  It could be, but don't forget that the day will come when women and minorities will no longer be the "darlings of the liberals" either.  Women might wake up one day and decide that they believe in marriage and children; minorities might opt one day for jobs, jobs, jobs, instead of debt, debt, debt.

A warning to you women and minorities: Stand up to your liberal "partner" on these issues and you too will soon recall in your lonely pessimism and alienation the old injunction.  You'll say: forget the princes.  Put not your trust in politicians.

Christopher Chantrill is a frequent contributor to American Thinker.  See his and also  At he is blogging and writing An American Manifesto: Life After Liberalism.