With the selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, John McCain has impressed many as making a savvy political maneuver. McCain has not had much appeal to pro-lifers, gun rights advocates or fiscal conservatives. Sarah Palin looks to be much more appealing to those voters. So this VP pick may serve McCain’s campaign for the presidency well.
Bully for him, as my Grandma would say.
For the rest of us, the Herb Tarlek question remains, “What does this mean… to me?” I believe what the selection of Sarah Palin is supposed to convey is that a McCain administration would save babies’ lives, protect gun rights and shrink the size of government.
This is, of course, utter nonsense.
So what is Sarah Palin’s true purpose? Whether she knows it or not, she is a stalking horse.
I learned about a “stalking horse” reading a seemingly unrelated book years ago. It is a little treasure called Education’s Smoking Gun: How Teacher Colleges Have Destroyed Education in America by Reginald G. Damerell. The book is a fascinating account of a well-meaning retired advertising man who decided he would use his knowledge of effective communication to help people to teach. So he taught as a professor of Education at Amherst from 1970—1982. What he found appalled him.
Education fads came and went with little or even negative benefit for the students. He eventually decided that the emperor had no clothes, that the “Educationists” had other goals besides the ones they publicly proclaimed. He came very near to the libertarian analysis of government schools, that they are a glorified jobs program with little real ability to effectively teach beyond, perhaps, filling children with the latest government propaganda.
Where the notion of a “stalking horse” comes in is in his perceptive analysis of the use of minorities by the Education establishment. He argues that they responded to criticism in the 1950s by use of the “Big E — Education," essentially responding to any critics by saying they were criticizing education itself. He writes:
But handling criticism by name-calling this way was not adequate to ward off mounting criticisms in the 1960s, including numerous accusations of bigotry. Unable to reform themselves, educationists needed something to add to their Big E — education on a pedestal — behind which to hide. They found it in blacks and other minorities. They could fend off criticisms by accusing critics of being guilty of racism.
…Educationists made blacks and other minorities their stalking horses, hiding behind them, using them as camouflage for self-protection.
“Stalking horse” comes from hunting. To avoid scaring the prey, say a group of wild ducks, the hunter lets his horse wander towards the ducks since the ducks are not startled by seeing a horse. The hunter stays carefully behind the horse until he is close enough to shoot the ducks.
McCain and his coterie of neocon, war-mongering imperialists are the hunters. Sarah Palin is the stalking horse. And you and me, we’re the ducks.
There is nothing new here. In 1969, Murray Rothbard pleaded with libertarians to stop being stalking horses for the Right wing:
I got out of the Right-wing not because I ceased believing in liberty, but because being a libertarian above all, I came to see that the Right-wing specialized in cloaking its authoritarian and neo-fascist policies in the honeyed words of libertarian rhetoric. They need you for their libertarian cover; stop providing it for them!
As someone who is squarely in the demographic that they are trying to target with Sarah Palin, I can feel what they are trying to do. A friend of mine who is also a Christian and a libertarian hilariously wrote that he “is disappointed in himself because the Palin pick has softened his dislike for McCain.”
Many people who were not finding much to like in John McCain will be won over simply because they find what Sarah Palin stands for much more compelling. But I’m not buying, and you shouldn’t either.
Sarah Palin may be as sincere as can be, but if after a combined Reagan/Bush I/Bush II run of 20 years you still think the Republicans are going to shrink government, stop babies from being killed or reverse the slow erosion of 2nd amendment rights then you haven’t been paying attention.
It’s a trick! Don’t be fooled. Once again, those devilishly clever statists are figuring out how to quiet unrest among the natives and co-opt the growing opposition movements (as seen, for example, in the Ron Paul Revolution).