The GOP’s Worst Enemy
It’s not Sarah Palin.
It’s not Dick Cheney. It’s not Newt Gingrich. It’s not Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, or Ann Coulter.
And it’s certainly not any person in the Democratic Party.
Public Enemy Number One? Taylor Swift.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Why pick on this poor girl? Hasn’t she suffered enough? Isn’t Kanye West punishment enough for whatever sins she has committed in this lifetime and in any lifetime in the past or future? I have nothing against her, at all. I am a fan of Taylor Swift, along with 2,260,896 of my fellow Facebook users.
Now, why is this a problem for the GOP? Sarah Palin has 899,265 fans.
Why does it matter how many people are fans of Sarah Palin on Facebook? Of course, some say, Taylor Swift would have more; she’s a pretty, young singer. Sarah Palin’s the ex-Governor and ex-Vice-Presidential candidate of a party that doesn’t cater to the Facebook “crowd.” This begs the question, what is the Facebook crowd? Though the majority of users are young people, high schoolers, college students, and recent grads, this niche of social media is rapidly growing among Americans of all ages.
But this is where the problem is: the Republican Party is not reaching outside of the box. I’ll warrant, their message is being heard, but their presentation is what is truly flawed. The headlining ideas of the GOP are being screamed in the faces of generally innocent Members of Congress at townhall meetings, thrown on strange posters at rallies outside federal office buildings and in parks at so-called “tea parties,” being carried on the airwaves by individuals perceived by many as loud and pigheaded such as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh who are far more interested in the promotion of themselves and their agendas-ironically these are intertwined-than the civilized debate over public policy.
Enter Miss Wasilla. The Messiah of the Message, Sarah Palin was supposed to reinvigorate the party. Reaching out to the young and the yuppie, the faithful and the fiscally conservative, the moms and the mavericks. Yes, Sarah Palin’s mission was to attract the tired, the poor (who don’t like government assistance), and the huddled masses yearning to breathe free (as long as they don’t mind illegal wiretapping).
Taylor Swift became a sensation for her ability to cross the line. Her music has topped both the pop and country charts. In fact, she’s been on 24 different Billboard charts. Her quirky, teen love anthems have captured the hearts and minds of millions of Americans. Their down home influences have been able to transcend genres to appeal to a diverse group of listeners, who have responded enthusiastically. This is what Sarah Palin could have done—but didn’t. She was brought on to bring over Hillary supporters and appeal to the masses. She was supposed to be the Taylor Swift of the ticket, the one to crossover. As Taylor Swift brought country music to millions of Americans, Sarah Palin could have done that with conservatism. She had the ability to look like Americans. She even talks like Americans.
So where did she go wrong? One could say in her first speech on August 29, when she compared herself to Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton. One could say it was trying to conceal and then being forced to reveal daughter Bristol’s pregnancy. One could say it was in her appearance of complete and utter ignorance regarding a myriad of national and global issues. One could say it was in her incessant critiques of the media-the ones, like it or not, who were responsible for selling her case (or not) to the American people.
Or, perhaps, just maybe, it was her concentration on that infinitesimal group of people who are the Dick Cheney-admiring, Glenn Beck-listening Republicans who just don’t want to think about the outside world. She found comfort (or was forced to reside) in that tiny box of the “foil hat” crowd, and didn’t see any reason to leave or branch out, ignoring the fact that 2008 was a truly national, 50-state election. Madam Maverick rested on her laurels.
Though this election became a circus, the big tent that Sarah Palin was supposed to bring was never raised. As young Taylor Swift brings fans of pop, country, and other genres, Sarah Palin was supposed to unite the fiscal conservatives, the national defense crowd, and the religious right. Why didn’t this happen? She was for the bridge to nowhere before she was against it, she scared the dickens out of people when she insinuated that Russia was flying secret missions over Alaska, and despite her anti-choice and anti-gay positions, she only attended services sporadically and even then it was at a controversial house of worship.
What’s the difference between a Pop Princess and our Alaskan Annie Oakley? The ability to speak coherently. No, I’m not talking about Sarah Palin’s infamous gaffes immortalized on Saturday Night Live. And no, I’m not talking about the poetic simplicity of “Our Song” or the clever literary references in “Love Story.” Sarah Palin’s greatest failure is that she has lacked the ability to carry the message of the Republican Party (which is her message, in varying degrees) in the way that Taylor Swift has been able to sell herself and her music to a wide audience. What our favorite hockey mom needs to know is that if she plans to stand a chance at winning the Presidency, she needs to put on the blinders and get her message across, something she’s chronically failed to do. Now’s the hour to stop touring the world, start hitting the books, and be ready and able to present herself next time she decides to ride in on a “White Horse.”