Sunday, October 5, 2008

Why Do Voters Identify with Palin?

Charli Carpenter over at The Duck of Minerva is offended that people who mispronounce the word "nuclear" represent America to the world. This got me to thinking... representation is an interesting thing. For example, McCain and Biden both look and act like they could be members of my family. But I would prefer to be represented by Obama, because I'm more sensitive to other aspects of Obama's personality; I do not rank my own ethnicity and mannerisms as high priorities in a candidate.

But let's get to the interesting stuff. Why do religious conservatives feel that Palin represents them? To answer this question, I reach deep into my bag of experiences, back to the days when I myself was associated with religious conservatism.

First, religious conservatives aren't concerned with impressing the world at large. They've been marginalized and ridiculed so much that they've learned to be suspicious of anyone who doesn't have church cred.

Second, there's a strong anti-intellectual streak in conservative churches. It's the kind of thing that is bound to happen when you've been publicly arguing for a century that the world is 6000 years old. To religious conservatives, the awkwardness of Bush and Palin is evidence that they are genuine people.

Finally, religious conservatives are extremely issues-oriented. These are people who form and break relationships based on the interpretation of (often ambiguous) Bible verses. Whether we're talking about the literalist/fundamentalist (evangelical) camp or the traditionalist (Catholic) camp, religious conservatives are serious about propagating their religious opinions. They believe Palin offers them a chance to do that.