Not at Your Average Joe

Amanda McKeon

Recently, John McCain called Sarah Palin a “maverick” because she does not approve of robocalls — automated phone calls that relay a campaign message. If Governor Palin is such a “maverick,” as Senator McCain purports, then why does she not take a stand within her own campaign and stop the use of robocalls that link Senator Obama to domestic terrorism? Simply stating that you object to the use of this campaign tactic is meaningless if you allow its use to proliferate.

“Maverick” is a term that has been thrown about often by the McCain campaign to convey to the public how different John McCain is to from every other politician, to depict him as a nonconformist. Now, the campaign has applied the term to Governor Palin. But what makes the governor so different, and how are her words and actions in the campaign any different than other politicians? In reality, there appears to be little that distinguishes the governor’s language, rhetoric and campaigning style from that of most politicians. Governor Palin excels in using manipulative language to garner support.

Recently, the governor turned to a popular political ploy: exploiting patriotism and “everyman.” At a recent fundraiser in North Carolina, she told the crowd, “We believe that the best of America is not all in Washington, D.C. We believe, we believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation.”

Her words attempt to rouse by invoking patriotic sentiment, but they also aim to divide. She designates the small towns of America as “real,” “hard working,” and “pro-America,” while leaving the impression that these characteristics rest solely in only certain parts of America. Those who live in the cities (read: liberals, Obama-supporters) must care much less about America than the “folks” who live out in the country – the people of “the real America.”

How are the small towns of America any more “real” than the big cities of America? Why are they more “pro-America?” Governor Palin chose not to address these questions; in all likelihood, she has no explanation for these assertions. She made her statements in an effort to align her campaign with America, to show that she and Senator McCain stand for Americans and to make the point that, perhaps, Senators Obama and Biden care less about America.

The governor’s inflammatory marks continued: “This is where we find the kindness and the goodness and the courage of everyday Americans. Those who are running our factories and teaching our kids and growing our food and are fighting our wars for us. Those who are protecting us in uniform. Those who are protecting the virtues of freedom.”

Are there no teachers or soldiers or police officers in the less remote parts of America? Is everyone who lives outside of small town America cruel and cowardly? Clearly, Governor Palin only made this remark to identify herself as sympathetic, and by extension, her campaign, to the “average” American.

The governor’s statements demonstrate that her focus is on employing meaningless and divisive rhetoric instead of on the issues that actually matter.

While Governor Palin can state that she is with small town America and can associate herself as an ally of the “average American,” her failure to focus on substance in terms of why her policies will benefit the “average American” illustrates that she is not a maverick, just another candidate who ignores issues in favor of inflated oratory.