[FoRK] FactCheck.org: Sliming Palin

J. Andrew Rogers andrew at ceruleansystems.com
Thu Sep 11 22:49:56 PDT 2008

On Sep 10, 2008, at 7:28 PM, geege4 at gmail.com wrote:
> Naivite, your name is Stephen.  The progressiveness you take for  
> granted on the west coast is novel, exotic and "weird" in ever- 
> growing swaths of the US.

How is "progressive" defined?  You have far more freedom in the  
western "red" states than the traditional liberal "blue" states, so I  
take it that "progressiveness" has very little to do with "freedom",  
which is my primary concern.  Most of the dark blue states  
pathologically hyper-regulate every aspect of your life.  As do many  
red states in the south.

> I'm still having trouble with the idea that Palin is representative  
> of what  Alaskans are today.  I've always thought of them as  
> socially fringey and unprovincial.  Alaska seems more like Idaho  
> now, without the saving grace of Libertarians.  :-)

Here is the thing that seems to escape the attention of a lot of  
people:  Alaska, and indeed much of the mountain west, is less  
religious than the most "progressive" parts of the country.  In fact,  
very few parts of the United States even approach the level of non- 
religiousness of Alaska, and the parts that do are known for their  
libertarianism, not their urban liberalism.  It reflects a certain  
ignorance of western culture, and if the Democrats continue to be tone  
deaf to this they will flip states in the west that they should control.

Ask yourself this:  how is it that Palin is ridiculously popular in a  
state that is less religious than every state where the residents  
declare themselves to be "progressive"?  I hate to break it to you,  
but Alaskans are damn near the least religious people in the entire  
United States, and the statistics back that up. Your mistake was in  
assuming that "religious" is somehow orthogonal to "libertarian", but  
those are not diametrically opposed positions in western culture.  The  
rural west is not the South; it is generally considered boorish and  
rude to proselytize.  Palin may be quite religious, but she was raised  
in a culture that does not consider religion to be a public policy  
matter and frowns on people that do.

All the aspersions aside, and many illegitimate ones have been cast,  
it is a cultural norm in the non-urban west to keep your religion out  
of the public sphere. That whole bible-thumper thing is an east-of-the- 
Rockies affectation.  Consequently, even religious people tend to have  
a public policy appearance of libertarians in places like Alaska.  As  
long as people like Palin keep their religion out of policy, and  
frankly her track record is about as clean in that regard as one could  
ask for, I have no problems with her insofar as that makes her  
indistinguishable from everyone else running for political office.   
Obama went to some mind-bogglingly stupid church for decades, and  
somehow he gets a pass for his memes of woo-ness on the basis that he  
won't legislate that idiocy.  Palin, if nothing else, has a pretty  
solid track record of not being a proponent of whatever idiocy it is  
she might believe.

This is the key aspect of western US culture that is superior to  
eastern US culture, and I have lived many years on both sides of the  
Rockies.  In the non-urban West, it is culturally quite inappropriate  
to drag your personal religious beliefs into the public policy  
sphere.  We need a lot more of that western culture in the US  
political meme-space, and on some levels I welcome the opportunity for  
western Republicans to give hyper-religious southern theocrats the  
finger.  The Republicans were a much better party when they did not  
have the southern Democrats on board, though I will grant they did not  
win many elections then either.


J. Andrew Rogers

More information about the FoRK mailing list