Sunday, December 21, 2008

MORE CONSERVATIVE IDENTITY POLITICS. The L.A. Times has an article about Team Sarah, a web entity which the Times portrays as a rallying point for "women who had never followed political affairs" who are attracted to Palin as "a conservative mother trying to balance family and career." Co-founder Majorie Dannenfelser lets us know early that this isn't just an anti-abortion front group, and rather seeks to "bring together a coalition of women who support Sarah Palin on a range of issues, not just the Life issue." The other co-founder is Jane Abraham, who is also General Chairman of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List.

The American Spectator calls Team Sarah "the sort of spontaneous Tocquevillean activism that the conservative movement has been woefully lacking lately, and there is no other candidate for 2012 who has anything like it." (Dannenfeiser has written -- glowingly! -- about Palin at the Standard.)

There is a new wrinkle to this, though I wouldn't call it Tocquevillean. National women-centric political operations are usually focused on electing politically-appropriate female candidates, not on one person in particular. The two best-known such entities I can think of are both pro-choice: Emily's List (Democratic) and the WISH List (Republican). In the last election cycle Emily's List netted $33,401,859. WISH List took in $587,880. Abraham's Susan B. Anthony List Candidate Fund drew $690,165.

Speaking very broadly, it seems a gender-specific political appeal is more effective if your candidates are Democratic and favor abortion rights. Team Sarah is clearly hoping that Palin's popularity, such as it is, will change that. But thus far Team Sarah looks like a pink, candy-coated shell for hardcore anti-abortion politics, with the Team sending out alerts like "Stop the Abortion Bailout," and updating us on "Team Sarah at March for Life." Even if they admire Palin's Governor Mom routine, will women who are not already pro-life single-issue voters go for this?

As I've noted before, the rise of Palin has got some conservatives excited at the prospect of peeling off some of that hot identity-politics action from the left. About the most flattering thing I can say about it is that it's transparently insincere.

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