Main Street

John McCain's campaign tries on new messages like Paris Hilton tries on new shoes. But since Sarah Palin entered the race, they've managed to deliver at least one consistent rallying cry: We are the ticket of small-town values.

Small-town mythology has become the cornerstone of Palin’s pitch to voters. She spoke about “Main Streeters like me” in the vice presidential debate and talked up “Joe six-pack.” In her speech before the Republican National Convention, she told the audience that the nation grows “good people in our small towns, with honesty, sincerity, and dignity.”

Palin’s speech channeled Thomas Jefferson, who wrote to a friend in 1785, “Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country, and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bonds.” But the Jeffersonian portrait she sketched of rural America doesn’t tell the whole story.

Palin didn’t touch on the fact that small towns are hemorrhaging young people, who grow up and leave in search of opportunity. She didn’t mention that hope is scarce in some towns, as a 2008 survey (pdf) of rural Midwesterners completed by the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey Institute found. Only 15 percent of those asked to forecast the future of their communities believed life there would be better in 10 years. Palin didn’t explain to the nation that small towns have fallen on hard times. Nor did she promise rural Americans that a Palin vice presidency would mean a better future was on its way.

gen
10/24/2008 9:49:55 PM

Excellent article - bullseye! Palin is a myth created by a cynical campaign that has nothing to peddle but myths and cynicism