Amanda Marcotte: Palin’s Emotional Appeal ‘Helps Republicans Get Over the Logic and Evidence Problems That Plague Them’

Édouard Manet, Igor Stravinsky, and Sarah Palin: peas in a pod, contended Salon pundit Amanda Marcotte in a Thursday post analyzing Palin’s endorsement of Donald Trump. “Palin is the vanguard of a new way of right-wing speechifying,” declared Marcotte. “Her methods are the most outrageous, but as with most artistic revolutionaries…what seems iconoclastic now will swiftly become the norm.”

For Marcotte, what made Palin’s speech “brilliant” was its absence of ideas: “Thinking is the enemy of the conservative populist mission. What she wants is to make you feel, to have those feelings of bitterness and misplaced entitlement wash over the crowds until they are screaming for more blood…Her innovation helps Republicans get over the logic and evidence problems that plague them.”

From Marcotte’s piece (bolding added):

Palin is the vanguard of a new way of right-wing speechifying, a surprisingly avant-garde method of political outreach for people who think of themselves as the protectors of tradition. Her methods are the most outrageous, but as with most artistic revolutionaries…what seems iconoclastic now will swiftly become the norm…Her speech was, for Republican politicians, the “Rite of Spring” or the “Salon des Refusés”…

Traditionally, a political speech is an argument. It has a thesis, which is backed up with examples and organized in a coherent structure so that it has, or at least feels like it has, a logical flow to it…

The thing is, Palin isn’t trying to make an argument. That’s…not what audiences want from her…

Palin understands, probably better than anyone besides Donald Trump, how thinking is the enemy of the conservative populist mission. What she wants is to make you feel, to have those feelings of bitterness and misplaced entitlement wash over the crowds until they are screaming for more blood. In this, she succeeded…

Palin understands what other Republicans are just beginning to get, which is that the conservative base is an audience that is post-argument. Conservatism of the 21st century is an ideology built on sand. Its arguments fall apart upon the briefest of examination and the supposed “evidence” for their beliefs are mostly lies and self-delusions…Better instead to focus strictly on emotions and tribal identity…Imagistic speeches that arouse passions while silencing doubts is not stupid, but brilliant…

…In the traditional political speech, audiences are encouraged to tie their emotions to argument…

But Palin, by eliding the argument-based structure of traditional speeches, is getting past this altogether. Anger is turned into hate is turned into more anger, until it spins off, completely unmoored from any considerations like “why” or “how.” Her innovation helps Republicans get over the logic and evidence problems that plague them.

Tom Johnson
Tom Johnson
Tom Johnson is a contributing writer for NewsBusters