Tea Party women may prove to be the counterpoint to the “Single Mom” demographic courted during the 2008 Presidential Election.
Tea Party women are older, whiter and angrier, and some are, dare I mention it, menopausal. These disconnected, stay-at-home, Christian moms were looking forward to a few years of peace before retirement, but life and reality caught up with them and maybe even passed a few by. Their youth is gone, their looks are gone, and unless things change, the chance to retire in comfort is gone. The economy forced their kids to return and their nest eggs and homes to devalue, and some have unemployed husbands hanging around the house collecting unemployment and worker’s comp. And that makes them angry and wondering who’s to blame?
Many of these women have not yet given a name to their anger or found their voice, but regrettably Sarah Palin may provide a real life heroine for their Harlequinesque predicament. She’s the beautiful, smart-mouthed political “rogue,” saying and doing what a Tea Party woman never dared. And, Sarah Palin aggressively courts these adulators to join her new band of Wannabees. She absolves these women of looking in the mirror for their part in this economic dilemma while pointing her bedazzled finger at Washington.
Will the Tea Party women’s new champion morph into a new political phenomenon requiring them to actually formulate a coherent political ideology? Or, will she merely facilitate their easy slide into familiar roles learned as teenagers and adolescents, becoming abject followers of their new Queen Bee and “Mean-Girl-in-Chief”?
Don’t kid yourself. Sarah is a Mean Girl adroit in classic Mean Girl tactics:
- She calls people names. Barack Obama is a community organizer. Levi Johnston is Ricky Hollywood. Bloggers are kids in pajamas.
- She starts rumors. Back in Wasilla, she insinuated that her mayoral opponent was Jewish as she claimed she would be the first Christian mayor of Wasilla – a Christian town. Barack Obama pals around with terrorists. The health care bill has death panels.
- She blames others for her problems. When she couldn’t answer Katie Couric’s simple interview questions, Palin claimed to be the victim of “gotcha” journalism. When she was called out for wearing designer clothes on the campaign trail, it was the RNC’s fault. When her choice for Alaska’s Attorney General (Wayne Anthony Ross) wasn’t confirmed, she blamed the bloggers.
- She can’t admit a mistake. Her rollercoaster performance during the Presidential campaign was blamed on McCain senior staffers, not a bit of postpartum depression, or even the start of peri-menopause. When she had to pay the state back for family travel expenses, she blamed the state’s dizzying and circular rules. When caught looking at cheat notes on her palm during a cream puff interview, she took a swipe at the President, stating she had to use a “poor man’s teleprompter.” Newsflash Sarah, you’re not poor anymore.
What’s most troubling, Sarah Palin can’t apologize for or correct her mistakes. Not only is this the main characteristic of a Mean Girl; it’s the worst trait for a leader. To never admit you are wrong about anything is bad enough. To never correct a mistake is more than divisive and anti-Christian; it’s out-and-out dangerous. You can never, ever solve a problem if you refuse its origin.
No offense (which is a Mean Girl way to announce you’re about to say something offensive and don’t really care), but when those on the whacky fringes like the Tea Party movement become disrespectful, physical and violent, a credible leader strives to tone down obvious violent rhetoric. But that’s not Palin. She’s doubled down on dangerous talk in order to be right, to get her way. Who will she blame if it backfires (sorry)?
However, there is a way to defeat the Mean Girl. Beat her at her own game. I don’t mean lobbing typical Mean Girl comebacks like, “You wouldn’t have to call the media lame if you weren’t so lame yourself,” or “You’re just jealous that I’m a community organizer because you’re such a community divider.”
Don’t take her seriously. Don’t micro-manage, let her have a long leash, let her obvious social anxieties take further hold of her reason. Don’t give more weight to her middle school allegiances. However, not giving her weight would mean ignoring her, the ultimate defeat, which unfortunately will be tough since the media can’t get enough of her, and it’s the negative attention that feeds this beast.
Fortunately, adults don’t usually play by the same rules as those stuck in high school. Adults pride themselves on the honesty of their relationships and don’t shun people for wearing a particular brand of shoes, or a particular brand of political beliefs. As attractive a figure as Palin at first blush appears to some, like every Mean Girl she will end up simply damaging the self-esteem of women in the Tea Party and the country.
To get the attention of the Tea Party woman away from the shiny object that is Sarah Palin, it will be necessary to get the economy going. Get those kids and husbands out of her hair and back to work. And, don’t forget Grandma, she wants to get the hell out of Dodge. Get the housing market humming so Granny can move, kit and kaboodle, to Vegas.
Finally, Tea Party woman needs to understand some basic things about civility in politics. Traditionally, a get-out-the-vote campaign graphic is a check mark on a ballot, not a sight and crosshairs over a congressional district. Anyone who claims to not understand the difference is a liar. And, the Tea Party woman should know that today’s Palin courtier is tomorrow’s Palin bootlick.