Does the Angry Left really want to launch a culture war over Sarah Palin? Fine. Lock and load.
That's the feeling of many conservatives who until last week were lukewarm at best about the prospect of a John McCain presidency. The unhinged malice of the cultural left's assault on the Alaska governor's personal life has focused their minds and stirred their hearts. Palin's astonishingly poised and confident performance in her convention speech proves that this Iron Lady is not about to quail before the judgment of her would-be betters.
Neither will conservatives. If they were indifferent or hostile to the Republican ticket, the cultural elite's savage treatment of Palin reminded them of what's really in play this year. It's the same snarling spite for small-town folks, religious believers and anybody else who was on the wrong side of the 1960s.
Why does the Angry Left hate Palin? Because of the potentially transformative power of her example.
She stands for the belief that there is no contradiction between being a feminist and being pro-life. She chose to welcome her Down syndrome son into the world, unlike 90 percent of American women today, whose Down babies' lives end in abortion. When teen daughter Bristol became pregnant out of wedlock, Sarah Palin didn't hustle the girl off to the abortionist or hide her from public view.
In fact, whatever the private heartbreak of this Christian mom, Palin shockingly failed to fulfill the left's stereotype of how religious conservatives are supposed to respond to such crises. She defiantly and proudly showcased Bristol and her boyfriend, as if to say: We are family. Don't you dare mess with us.
Palin's the real deal
The cultural left knows that unlike many Republican politicians who pay lip service to the pro-life cause, Sarah Palin's the real deal. And the cultural right knows it, too.
She's a spirited woman who has shown that she can take down a state's corrupt old-boy network. That's a hell of an accomplishment. But Palin is a small-town girl with working-class tastes who didn't sell out to move up. She's not a cosmopolitan liberal or a cosmopolitan liberal wannabe – and that, the Angry Left and their media fellow travelers cannot forgive.
Yes, Sarah Palin is suddenly the Republican Party's Barack Obama. But she is also its Clarence Thomas – another able and consequential public figure who was a traitor to his cultural class. The left understands precisely what it's dealing with – and it will try to destroy her utterly as it tried to do him years ago.
While liberals have shown themselves eager to compromise with the right on matters of war and economics, they also have demonstrated that they will defend the sexual revolution by any means necessary. The indecency of the way some in the elite media and among liberal activists treated Palin and her family last week was breathtaking – but also illuminating. And for conservatives, galvanizing.
If the GOP was the party only of Mitt Romney, of Rudy Giuliani, of George W. Bush and, indeed, of John McCain, who could blame disillusioned conservatives for sitting out this race?
But now we know that it's also the party of Sarah Palin, the kind of conservative that Barack Obama pitied earlier this year as “clinging” to her God, her guns and her traditions because she doesn't know any better. In her convention speech, Palin threw his condescension back in his face.
She's a fighter, this one. And worth fighting for. Come what may in November, we now know what the future of the GOP and the conservative movement looks like.
She's the conservative future
It looks like a straight-shooting, churchgoing populist married to a union man. It looks like a mom standing on stage before a national audience, with her handicapped infant resting on her shoulder, unbowed and triumphant. It looks like a family faithful to its members in their weakness and failure – one that does the right thing by its own, even if it's hard.
Let's be clear about this last point. For Barack Obama, Bristol Palin's baby is a punishment, something he's said he wouldn't wish on his own daughter. Sarah Palin doesn't see it that way. That's the difference between life and death. The cultural and class politics of that choice matter beyond abortion, as enraged liberals reminded us last week.
Message received. Game on.