At the news that Sarah Palin would be John McCain's running mate, hundreds of thousands leaped to their feet. Hallelujah! Yippee! Boy, oh, boy!
In marketplace terms, we call Palin the-product-the-market-was-waiting-for, sort of like the better mousetrap, or the iPhone.
What exactly does the lady offer the electorate that Mitt Romney, say, or Tim Pawlenty didn't and couldn't, anyway, in the same degree?
Womanhood? With some voters, yes -- that's the answer. It was time for a woman on a national ticket. That doesn't explain, nevertheless, the raptures into which men have fallen concerning Sarah Palin -- only partly because of how she helps the ticket.
There's religion, too. She's a strongly evangelical Christian. There's her commitment to the defense of unborn life. There's the exotic Alaskan milieu: moose and guns and wilderness. The political marketplace was ready for this lady because she offers what? Normality?
Granted, no politician above the pay grade of school board member is "normal." Least normal of all are those who want to be president, which is, maybe, the salient point: the more power that government has come to exert over "normal," everyday, unrushed -- more or less -- life.
The circle of people who care only marginally for this style of life are being called "elitist." As are the media these people read or watch.
The small-town, churchified American feels himself -- or herself -- to have been set apart, disadvantageously so, from and by the elites. And you know what? There's something to this feeling.
The elitists see the Palinists, with their carpools and hymnals, as trying to stuff their principles -- patriotism, sexual restraint, reverence for God, family-centeredness -- down other people's throats. They've got it precisely backwards. The Palinists work mainly to defend what they once took for granted, or as obligatory: love of country, adherence to certain (if frequently shifting) norms of behavior, faith in the Lord. The blue-state "elitists" -- you can figure this out just by reading their media -- really do seem to feel less instinctive interest in these modes of expression and identification.
They have another irritating trait as well: They support Supreme Court rulings and popular entertainments and cultural relaxations of one kind or another, initiated by the elitists, as if to spite their cultural opposites.
This is all pretty general; you couldn't fail to drive a Mack truck or two through certain particularities. But I think I'm right in appraising the Palinists as victims of cultural aggression. They aren't the ones trying to step on someone else. They're trying to keep others -- their government in particular -- from stepping on them!