Alaska is the New Political Frontier - The Intrepid

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Alaska is the New Political Frontier

Tonight Sarah Palin is scheduled to speak to the Republican National Convention. Her speech comes amid controversy over McCain’s VP vetting process, her 17 year old daughter’s pregnancy, and questions of experience. Despite the critics, Sarah Palin has managed to give the McCain campaign exactly what it wanted, the spotlight. For the first time in weeks the headlines across the U.S. (and the world for that matter) were not about Barack Obama. By picking a woman with strong conservative credentials McCain has managed to revitalize interest in his campaign and more importantly steal air time from the Obama camp.

Although Palin’s speech tonight is important, what she has to say is not as important as her image. For the most part this image has already been set. The McCain campaign has consistently touted Palin’s blue-collar work ethic, Alaskan roots, and hometown charm and Palin herself will no doubt make numerous references to these herself tonight.

While it is obvious that the McCain campaign is trying to sell Palin to the American public, the American public is also being sold the Conservative dream through the example of Alaska. As Slate writers Adriaan Lanni and Wesley Kelman have accurately surmised, “Palin embodies a notion that Republicans can create a society like Alaska.” A society built on Christian conservative values, a hearty rural lifestyle, non-existent taxes, and good economic prospects for working class people.

For many conservative minded Americans Palin’s Alaskan lifestyle represents the American Dream; a new frontier where resources are plentiful and well-paid opportunities exist for anyone willing to put in a good day’s work. This conservative dream is obviously flawed. Alaska’s negative income tax policy and working class economic prospects are only made possible by oil revenues. The State’s rural climate is only due to it’s under population and relative isolation from the rest of the United States. None of these factors can be recreated in the other 49 states. But, the McCain campaign will still try to sell the possibility that Palin’s experience in Alaska can recreate this conservative American Dream in the continental United States.