Friday, 26 September 2008

Palin, the uber-Democrat

It's clear to me why Palin has the Democrats in a frenzy; she's more aligned with the old-style Democrat base than any of the current crop of perfumed carpet baggers that claim to represent the working class.

Although I am a plutocrat, you don't have to go back far in our family tree to find a rock solid Labor membership. My grandfather was a train driver, a member of AFULE (Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Engineers), a union organiser and eventually a state MP, representing of course the Labor Party. He held his seat for over two decades - he was old, old-style Labor.

One of my uncles was a wharfie. These guys were solidly working class - their origins were about as blue collar as you can get. Grandfather served in parliament alongside other Labor members who were all short a finger or two - lost in industrial accidents of one form or another. I imagine that they all had hands the size of dinner plates; proper horny-handed gentlemen with rock-like callouses from working for a living.

They were the type of guys (for they were all men) who started as an apprentice boilermaker or steelworker or carpenter, maybe picked up a bit of education along the way (but more often than not, didn't even have a leaving certificate from school) and entered parliament later in life after coming up through the unions the hard way.

I have no idea if Grandfather was typical of his time or not, but he was a hunting man (we still use his .44/40 lever action from time to time, which he used to shoot koalas) and a God-fearing man (church every Sunday, and a man who lived the word of the Book, not just paying lip-service once a week). I doubt he was much of a pacifist, give that his younger brother, who signed up at age 40*, is buried in France (WWI) and both his sons saw active service in WWII.

When I look at his portrait, I see that stern, unsmiling expression of his time, of someone who came up the hard way and ended up as the cream of the working class. I see someone who was a fire-breathing lefty when it came to the economy, but socially very, very conservative. He would probably find the Rev Fred Nile to be a bit soft when it comes to social policy.

His type were swept out of the Labor Party in the late 1960's. He didn't live long enough to see that, but if he were alive today, he'd probably be branded a God-bothering, hillbilly redneck from the deep south (and yes, he was from a small country town in the south of WA - just north of the real hillbilly area of the state).

To me, Sarah Palin is a bit of a throwback to that time. No, I am not calling her a redneck hillbilly. Instead, I think her family has more authentic roots in the birthplace of what we Australians would call the Labor movement than any of the current crop of Democrats. If Grandfather met John Kerry, and was told he was a representative of blue collar America, he would have laughed his head off, but I think he would have recognised Palin as one of his type. Sure, she doesn't have hands the size of dinner plates and callouses the size of walnuts, but she is of that stock.

Which is why she terrifies the Democrats, and why she connects so well with a particular class of American that is supposed to vote Democrat. Hell, I've been a member of more unions than every current serving Labor member of parliament, and I bet I've done more manual labour along the way than every one of them put together. I've probably dealt with more real, front line shop stewards than most of them. I know what a workplace looks like, having spent a decade crawling around the strangest places of a very blue collar industry.

Palin, and her family, give me the impression that they've been down that road as well. Scott Palin looks like he's eaten a lot of meals in a crib room with a lino floor and formica tables and wobbly chairs, eating fish and chips and sharing girlie magazines with the boys, and he has a hardhat with his name on it - and it's not for show. His workboots are real workboots, not something that you pull on for a photo opportunity at a building site.

Obama has not spent his career with workers - he spent it with those that weren't working, and nothing would annoy my grandfather, with his monstrous Presbyterian-style work ethic - than people who didn't pull up their socks and get on with it. Obama doesn't know what the working class looks like. Most of the Democrat big wheels give me the same impression.

* - interesting factoid for any military types reading this. My great uncle had a 4 digit service number. By the time Dad joined, they were handing out 5 digit numbers.


Anonymous said...

great post

Anonymous said...

Kim Beasley Senior on the decline of the ALP: "It turned its back on the cream of the working class in its rush to embrace the dregs of the middle class."

I would think you could say just about the same thing of the Democrats in America.

On blogs and things, Lefties now get themselves all tied in knots trying to characterise Coalition supporters simultaneously as dumb, red-neck blue-collar uneducated working stiffs, and elitist "born-to-rules."

I've often asked them to explain how I can be a dumb uneducated blue-collar red-neck and ALSO an elitist "born-to-rule," but have never had a good answer.