Trust me folks, you haven’t seen the last of Sarah Palin. The "Disasta from Alaska" is about to become the new Queen of a New Dixie. I know what you are thinking. Alaska is about as far north of the Mason-Dixon Line as you can get and not fall into the Arctic Ocean. There aren’t any cotton fields up there and Alaska was still in Russia when we had the Civil War.
But stick with me for a moment before you give up and click away to some other blog. When states like Virginia and North Carolina are seriously considering a black man for president and even Georgia is showing signs of sanity, the old geographical Traditional Dixie is cracking up like pond ice on a warm spring day.
Old Dixie after all was just any state south of the Mason-Dixon line. That included Maryland which long ago gave up those Confederate sympathies that caused Lincoln to suspend Habeas Corpus and arrest its pro-slavery leaders to avoid a Maryland secession. Maryland is now considered a true-blue liberal state, not quite Vermont exactly, but not the Maryland that Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman escaped from when they were slaves.
In my Maryland childhood I used to hear people say that "The South" would rise again. Well "The South" did rise again– only it was the Civil Rights Movement that did the rising. Traditional Dixie, "where old times there are not forgotten" now has a new historical memory to supercede Pickett’s charge and Sherman’s March Through Georgia. It has the memory of SNCC kids sitting in at white-only soda fountains and Martin Luther King giving some of the most stirring speeches ever heard on this continent.
No, today’s New Dixie is no longer cotton fields, tobacco fields, grits and gravy. The New Dixie is now a state of mind…an ironclad adherence to white supremacy regardless of whether one lives above the Arctic Circle or in the southernmost tip of Florida or Texas. It exists in all 50 states and U.S. territories. Dixie is not just the South anymore. You can see Confederate flags anywhere racists gather.
This New Dixie is Sarah Palin country. Just check out the YouTube videos of her campaign rallies. I swear I haven’t seen such mean looking political campaign crowds since George Wallace used to swing through Maryland in his quest for the Presidency. But don’t just look at the crowds. Look at Palin. She loves the attention and she craves the power. These are her folks and she knows it. When that woman at the 2008 Republican Convention burst out with,"She’s one of us!", she wasn’t kidding.
But if you only see the screaming racist mobs and Sarah Palin’s barracuda smile, you are watching the sideshow and missing the main event.
In the 19th century robber baron Jay Gould famously said, "I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half."
I suspect Sarah Palin is on a journey that will take her out of the Republican Party and eventually to out and out fascism. You see, our ruling class has long depended upon a racially divided working class. But those racial divisions are weakening. Joe the Plumber may have grabbed the headlines, but the largely white United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters endorsed Barack Obama.
This New Dixie isn’t just the racist wing of the white working class, it’s also the racist wing of the wealthy elite who think they will not survive an America when the last of Jim Crow is finally stuffed and placed in a glass museum case.
There is nothing like a global economlic crisis to get working class attention. Some working class people are looking left. Some are looking right. A lot of working class people are unsure and still trying to figure it all out. Old attitudes and prejudices are getting a lot of second looks. Questions are being asked and the conventional answers just don’t seem to ring true anymore.
When working class people begin questioning the wisdom of the "free market" and asking too many questions, it only adds to the fear and panic that has gripped our wealth elite since the financial crisis smacked them upside of their well-coiffed heads.
That’s when fascism suddenly looks pretty attractive to some wealthy people, like a good doubleshot of whisky after a bad day on Wall Street.
And that’s when Sarah Palin steps up to the plate waving a bat labeled "The Real America" to the cheers of her racist supporters. You can use a bat to hit baseballs. You can also use a bat to hit people. Fascism just wouldn’t be fascism without domestic terrorism to back it up.
Of course Palin and her wealthy friends wouldn’t openly endorse political violence. She would just wink while plain unmarked bills are handed out to shadowy figures in dark alleys and lonely country roads.
As poet and sage Bob Dylan once sang, the white working class racist is "…only a pawn in their game."
Traditional Dixie was where the most feared domestic terrorist group in US history, the KKK, had its stronghold. If domestic terrorism does rise again, it will most likely come from the New Dixie, the white supremacist mobs who hail Sarah Palin as their New Messiah. But hiding in the shadows away from those racist mobs will be wealthy elitists who invest their money in hate and fascism so they can keep their power and keep the working class down and divided.
I know..I know…leftwing socialists like me are always crying, "fascist!", just like the kid who cried "Wolf!" in the fairy tale. But the kid was right…once. And once is all it takes.
At this time Sarah Palin lacks the political sophistication and the disciplined organization to be considered a fascist threat. At this time, she also does not have the social breakdown and chaos that fascism requires.
The key phrase here is "At this time". She could learn some political theory and team up with political advisers who are smarter than she is. She could cultivate friends in the higher levels of Corporate America and in the military. She could get some financial backing and develop a grassroots national organization that included enough violent Palinshirts to be an intimidating force in at least some regions of the country.
If the economy took a turn for the much worse and there was widespread social breakdown, Sarah Palin at the head of organized fascist movement could become a credible threat.
Personally I think this is unlikely, but remember that Old Dixie once lived under Jim Crow fascism so there is an ugly precedent for New Dixie to build on. It would be all too easy to dismiss her. I suspect that she is smarter than she appears and could make up for her obvious lack of education by some intense effort. She certainly has the charisma to rouse the frightened hateful white supremacist minority in our population.
I think many white people underestimate how dangerous white supremacy is. Electing the nation’s first black president is only a step toward a truly civilized USA. The really hard work toward that goal will begin November 5th.
In light of that it would be wise to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.