Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Why the McCain-Palin Ticket Deserves to Lose

A short rant for election day:

The Republican ticket deserves to lose quite simply because it has made the promotion of ignorance and mistrust of knowledge into a central tenet of the campaign. What we've seen, in all the talk of "pro-America areas", all the scenes of election rallies a step away from angry mobs, and especially in the vacuous mantra of "small-town values", has been a simple message: We don't trust those who know 'too much'.
The cynical selection of Sarah Palin epitomises this idea that the best way to make tough decisions is on gut feeling, and that the correct reaction to anything unfamiliar is mistrust, fear and aggression. 'Small-town values' are precisely that - drawn from a small place, based on a smaller set of influences. Lack of knowledge of the urban way of life is not a virtue, it is a dangerous lack of inexperience - worse still is to dismiss out-of-hand that there may be even the possibility of values in places other than those you know.
In the Palin depiction, Obama, as a man of the city, an intellectual and, more subtly, a black man, does not fit the standards of the 'small town' of the mind, cut off from the electoral issues.
The most depressing aspect of the campaign is that John McCain quite clearly does not subscribe to this. He is an urbane man, even in some ways an intellectual. His choice of Palin was thus utterly and unforgivably cyncial - an insult to the electorate and his base by suggesting he does not consider them worthy to understand anything higher than fear-mongering and crude demonisation of an opponent. In any sensible case, as Tina Fey has shown, a vice-presidential candidate with the inability to construct a normal English sentence would be ridiculous. It takes either an ignorant, gullible or cynical presidential candidate to present this as a virtue, a 'small-town value.'

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