Andrew Jackson was this country's first President that didn't represent the elite in our society. When he won, the party in the White House was attended by all sorts of folks that we'd now call lower middle class. He was America's first populist leader. He won by consolidating his vote around all sorts that had never participated in the process before him.
Every politician would like to be considered a populist because such a moniker spans ideologies. It simply means a politician of the people. William Jennings Bryan rode a populist wave to nearly two White House elections.
Over the last century, however, populism has almost always been associated with liberals. That may all change. Sarah Palin will almost certainly attempt to ride a conservative populist wave to future political fortunes.
Last night, I attended a Thanksgiving dinner with relatives. Both are professors at a major university. Their friends are also professors at the same university. We spoke of politics throughout the evening. While their political persuasion differs from mine greatly (for instance one friend was in favor of single payer health care), the conversations were always lively and cordial.
That was except when the subject of Palin came up. Everyone had a disgust for the woman that's difficult to describe unless you're there to hear the contempt and condescension in their voice. One person couldn't believe that I belong to a Sarah Palin Facebook page. One individual even acknowledged the good work she did in Alaska, including negotiating a good deal for the citizens of her state with the oil companies.
To folks like that, it isn't about accomplishment. One individual said that in this "day and age our Presidents must come from an ELITE university". Keep in mind, Andrew Jackson could barely read. Ronald Reagan went to the "elite" university of Euraka College. Sarah Palin will never win over folks like this and we all know many like them.
In fact, not only will she never win them over but they will be her best campaigning friend. Every single person at this party, and certainly everyone that holds her in contempt (as opposed to simply being uncomfortable, against her, or unsure of her), would be considered an elite by most.
In fact, if Sarah Palin were to become President it would be uniquely American story that most of us would be proud of. She rose from nothing with no connections and only through the force of her own will. She didn't go to an elite school. She doesn't run in elite circles. That makes her like most people as opposed to the elites.
It also makes her the perfect person to run a populist campaign. Of course, the elites have no use for her, that's what makes them elites. Bryan and Jackson weren't trying to appeal to the big wigs and power brokers. They were trying to appeal to the every man. That's what Palin would appeal to as well.
Let's face it those in fly over country, so to speak, already believe, with good reason, that the elites hold them in contempt. If the elites hold Palin in contempt, that only makes her that much more appealing to them. She has a simple anti government message that can easily appeal to the masses. The best part, for Palin, is that her enemies will help sell that message.
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