The Shadow Knows

…a terrible fear of living under the “governance” of a failed beauty queen

A friend sent this from a MySpace blog:

Sometimes politics has the uncanny effect of mirroring the national psyche even when nobody intended to do that.

I’m not here to argue, but hello, no sometimes about that.

This is perfectly illustrated by the rousing effect that Gov. Sarah Palin had on the Republican convention in Minneapolis this week. On the surface, she outdoes former Vice President Dan Quayle as an unlikely choice …Her state of Alaska has less than 700,000 residents, which reduces the job of governor to the scale of running one-tenth of New York City. By comparison, Rudy Giuliani is a towering international figure.

Governor of 700,000 souls. Worth keeping in mind.

Palin’s pluck has been admired, and her forthrightness, but her real appeal goes deeper.

She is the reverse of Barack Obama, in essence his shadow, deriding his idealism and exhorting people to obey their worst impulses.

Exhorting people to follow their worst impulses. Somehow just seeing this phrase in print, as it were, so finite, so … recorded, clears the mind, a bit.

… the shadow is that part of the psyche that hides out of sight, countering our aspirations, virtue, and vision with qualities we areashamed to face: anger, fear, revenge, violence, selfishness, and suspicion of “the other.”

For millions of Americans, Obama triggers those feelings … He is calling for us to reach for our higher selves, and that stirs up hidden reactions of an unsavory kind.

Which explains a lot. Hard as it is to understand … it’s also understandable. I’m tellin’ you, this piece is carving some space in my mind, some weird kind of peace I didn’t know I had.

… In her acceptance speech Gov. Palin sent a rousing call to those who want to celebrate their resistance to change and a higher vision.

Yes she did. “Yes we do not want to change a god damn thing.” “Yes we are happy with the status quo. … And get that damn foreigner out of here, this is America.”

Look at what she stands for:

Small town values—a denial of America’s global role, a return to petty, small-minded parochialism.

Ignorance of world affairs— a repudiation of the need to repair America’s image abroad.

Family values—code for walling out anybody who makes a claim for social justice. Such strangers, being outside the family, don’t need to be heeded.

Rigid stands on guns and abortion— a scornful repudiation that these issues can be negotiated with those who disagree.

Patriotism—the usual fallback in a failed war.

“Reform”—in addition to cleaning out corruption and excessive spending, one also throws out anyone who doesn’t fit your ideology.

Pretty damn good. And I’ll tell you who wrote this in a minute, not that it really matters.

… The irony, of course, is that Gov. Palin is a woman and a reactionary at the same time. She can add mom to apple pie on her resume, while blithely reversing forty years of feminist progress. …

Yes she can!

The Republicans have won multiple national elections by raising shadow issues based on fear, rejection, hostility to change, and narrow-mindedness

…So what comes next is a contest between the two forces of progress and inertia. Will the shadow win again, or has its furtive appeal become exhausted? No one can predict. The best thing about Gov. Palin is that she brought this conflict to light …

Do I seem like a dunderhead, to have not thought this way already? Then dunderhead I am, and, irony upon irony, I have been one out of my own fear. A terrible, nearly unmanagable fear of living under the “governance” of a …. a failed beauty queen.

The social metaphors for which just pile up like one of those forty-car collisions on a California freeway in the fog. Everything from Jon-Benet Ramsay—and Patsy—to George Lakoff, whom I just want to smack in the face. George, with his comforting moral packaging, designed to make liberals think they understand.

Well they don’t! You have to live among these people—the “Hell Yes I’m A Redneck, Where’s My Gun I’m Gonna Shoot That Goddamn Dog” folks. You know the attraction of simplicity. The Good guys versus the Bad.

What the writer has pointed out here—the piece is by Deepak Chopra—is precisely what we would like to forget, whether in ourselves, in our beloved, or in national politics. And that is, this life is a whole. Barack is reaching, and stirring up the shit—look what beauty queen came out from under what nowhere rock.

If he loses or wins this election truly is up for grabs. Either way, we ought not—if we admit the whole of life, if we aim to live this life, both in dark and in the light—to be at all surprised.