|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart|
Even if Sarah Palin’s resignation speech wasn’t quite as bad as Jon Stewart’s version it was still woeful. An interesting article in Boston Phoenix highlights the self-contained world of movement conservatives and the money to be made appealing to this audience:
There are at least 10 million people who could be called true “movement conservatives” in America today — perhaps twice that number, including conservative and libertarian independents, along with “base” Republicans. They are not only reading and tuning in — they are contributing to conservative nonprofit organizations and political-action committees; they are attending conferences; they are buying paraphernalia; and they are signing up for e-mail newsletters and online publications.
Much easier than actually running a state. Palin’s ability to appeal to rank and file conservatives is evident. In 2008 the Republican party in power sometimes looked as though it was seeking to be put out of its misery (reminded here of Fred Halliday’s description of European Communism in 1989). Many conservative activists seem happier in opposition. But to real world voters a politicians ability to govern is crucial. Mostly politicians are judged on their ability to supply collective goods valued by all voters: economic growth, community safety etc. Even a ‘polarising’ politician such as Jack Lang will as I argued in When the Labor Party Dreams only be successful if he or she can convince an electoral majority of their ability to supply these goods. Two pollsters who have analysed Palin’s appeal agree:
a lesson…often forgotten among political operatives: voters want more than a candidate who holds certain positions or values; the character, tone, and competency of candidates also matter. Voters can and do distinguish between someone who shares their values and someone who would serve the public well.
There is also here a lesson for Barack Obama. His success will depend on his ability to deliver collective goods. Chief among these is a return to economic growth. It is significant that the recent decline in Obama’s approval ratings is mostly among voters outside of the Democratic and liberal constituencies: male, independent and rural voters.