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Palin Considered through a Small Town Media Lens

New America Media, Commentary, Carol Forsloff Posted: Sep 04, 2008

Editors Note: Sarah Palins address during the Republication National Convention struck a chord with residents of small towns across the country. As NAM contributor Carol Forsloff writes, shes concerned folks wont get the whole story on Palin. Forsloff is co-publisher of The Real View, a weekly based in Natchitoches, La.

NATCHITOCHES, La. -- I admit it. I was ready not to like Sarah Palin. I liked her last night, but in the morning after things look different, as we women know. So before we get swept up in emotions following an astounding performance, well have to ask ourselves serious questions. Thats the sensible way. But lots of people in small town America go with their guts, and Palin gets to that right away. Also women like me, an older white woman in small town America, are looking sympathetically at the real possibility of a womans big win this time. Women in Natchitoches, Louisiana didnt like what they saw happen to Hillary from her husbands antics and male pundit jokes, so they wont like Palin being criticized now. And what they like will count a lot in this election, as Bushs last win showed.

Around Natchitoches people are talking already, and they liked what they saw on television Wednesday night. Sarah Palins appeal reached many people in our small town, highlighted as tops for retirement and nearly three times bigger than Wasilla, Alaska, the town of about 6,700 where Palin served as mayor. Natchitoches matters in this Presidential season because what folks like us believe and what we do can make a difference in what happens to the rest of the country---and maybe the rest of the world.

Natchitoches men will like Palin because shes good looking and her guy acts just like them. He likes sports, has guns, and protects those rights. Hes got five kids, changes diapers, smiles warmly at his wife in public places and fixes his own faucets. Women are going to like her since she has kept herself in shape during motherhood while taking care of both family and office. Natchitoches kids join the military after finishing school, just like Sarahs son did. They also got married after getting pregnant or had friends who did, so no one here will worry about Sarahs daughter doing it. The people in this town will like the Palin family, since they see their reflections in them.

Values talk resonates in Natchitoches from information in small bites, from gossip and a little help from the local paper that talks mostly about issues like birthdays and building construction. Then theres radio and television with Limbaugh and OReilly as favorites, and Fox News on Basic cable, which is what most people get around here. They dont use or believe much in computers. So they wont learn more about Palin than what Fox and the radio says.

Faith and politics are intimate partners in small towns like Natchitoches. Politicians are either preachers themselves or talk like them. They are also your neighbors whom you see regularly either at the church or the grocery stores around town. The message is the same: God, family, country and prayers for them all. Palin easily fits in here, as does her pro-life stance and her disabled child.

So the day after, how do I feel? Well, I worry, because most folks here in Natchitoches wont get what I do, from reading, from the Internet and from helping run a newspaper. My partner and I will try to get it to them while we hope they wont toss it aside.

Because the consequences of last nights performance can be very grave indeed, given Sarah Palins beliefs and behaviors, and the fact that many people in small towns will either not find out about or want to listen to them enough to have the kind of facts needed to make good decisions.

Those beliefs include Palins favoring of messianic war, removing environmental protections, and taking away the Constitutional and human rights of those only accused but not found guilty. In short I worry about the tough talk that folks will listen to and likely believe as I grieve about how easily it is to succumb to the moment when its the following day that counts.

Related Articles:

Palin Has No Record on Diversity or Civil Rights

Al Jazeera English Reports on Issues at Stake in the Election

Sarah Palins Job: Fire Up Pro-Lifers





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