Sunday, September 7, 2008

Family-friendly for me but not for thee

There's been quite a bit of discussion about Palin's family and her choice to run for office, and how Palin is a big hypocrite for refusing to support policies that are family-friendly while taking advantage of all kinds of privileges that allow her to have a family and run for office.

I actually don't think pointing this out as hypocrisy will get much, if any, traction. Here's why: According to the myth of the American Dream, the only people who deserve such pampered treatment are those who have it - which means that for many people, Palin is not a hypocrite at all. We're only suppose to be in it for ourselves, you see. The fact that many working mothers don't have the luxuries Palin does just means Palin is better, smarter, more deserving. It's not talent --> success, but success-as-evidence-of-talent.

Actually advocating for other people runs counter to the spirit of the American Dream, apparently. Palin's success is to be celebrated, but not emulated (there's an assumption in there about the inevitability of a hierarchy with a few at the top as well).

The classic Protestant Ethic - that one's access to heaven is determined by birth, and that signs of wealth in this life are merely signs that one is destined for heaven (with the subtext that any accumulation of wealth is blessed and therefore good) - is alive and well in America.

What may seem obvious to anyone to the left of, say, Bill Clinton is not, in fact, even considered true for many of Palin's supporters; as such, charges of hypocrisy on this front might easily be seen as incorrect at best and underhanded smears at worst (after all, we're supposed to be celebrating her success, not noting her hypocrisy). Or so I would guess.


Michael Faris said...

Right. Behind the claim that Palin is a hypocrite is the warrant that families who are struggling should be helped by the state. If this warrant is not accepted by the listener, then the claim that Palin is a hypocrite seems unfounded.

Also, ah, Calvinism. How quickly you built American, how awfully corrupt you have made it.

Dennis said...

Thank for you putting that in such simple terms. I was trying to rewrite/finish that post when a roommate came in and started talking to me. (His first sentence: "You know, Dennis, you blog a lot." Did he ever figure out that the fact that I kept trying to edit the post while he was in my room meant I wanted to edit the post and not talk to him at that moment? Not in the slightest.)

I eventually gave up and just hit publish.

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