Sarah Palin and me
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Sarah Palin is not my type, politically. She's no libertarian. She's a real conservative, with the sort of small town values I grew up with and could not wait to escape from. I should not like her, but something in me rebels at the way she's regarded and makes me feel protective (though God knows, she needs no protection from me). The linked post from the ever-interesting American Thinker blog made me realise why.
Refined is something Sarah Palin has never been.Tenure is something she has never had. She worked through high school, waitressing, cleaning offices, inventorying groceries.Then she got scholarships and worked to pay for college. Then she joined boy-friend Todd in Bristol Bay, Alaska, salmon fishing, working slimy fish processing jobs at the canneries. Off season Todd would work as a baggage handler and she would work at customer service and part-time reporting...
No wonder the liberals hate her. The whole point of public education, of business regulation, or rampant credentialism is to smother people like her before they have a chance to get anywhere.
This reminded me of my youthful educational experiences in the Labour North. Grammar schools had just been abolished (I took the 11 plus, but never learned my results). Radical change was everywhere. My "high school" had been the local secondary modern. The sign at the gate had been changed, but the teachers and facilities were the same. The village idiots made a constant uproar in the mixed ability classes and took all of the teacher's time. The hippyish art teacher gave us A to E grades in rotation, in protest at the "elitism" of grading.
I wanted out of the mediocrity of small town life, but in such a socialist environment any desire to achieve was suspect. The main question my education seemed to ask of me was "Who the hell do you think you are?" There were so many traps and pitfalls at every stage that my mental image of it is like the opening sequence of the first Indiana Jones movie. The great ball rolling to crush me as I ran desperately for the exit was the Labour Party. I slid under the door before it closed, reaching back in to grab my metaphorical hat. No-one, as far as I know, has escaped from that tomb of ambition since.
It may seem an overstatement to say that the whole point of public education is to smother people like Sarah Palin and me before we have a chance to get anywhere, but it certainly feels that way. The welcome from the Guardian-reading professionals among whom I have worked ever since has been as warm as that for Sarah from America's "liberal" snobs. You would think they would be delighted to meet a working-class boy or girl made good. Far from it. They like the working-classes in principle of course, but mostly they like us (as their ancestors liked us, but with less hypocrisy) "in our place." It's hard to believe it coincidence that all the systems they have devised - social housing, social security, comprehensive education - work so well to keep us there. They have put the working classes in a kind of social zoo, the better to preserve us and look after us.
How ungrateful of us to want to bite their condescending heads off.
Ladies and gentlemen, Sarah and I aspire to a different place. Not just for ourselves, but for the people we grew up with. If you don't like us, there's a fish-processing plant in Alaska, or a miserable rat-hole of a comprehensive up North, where you can get away from us and live the life you profess to respect.
Go for it. See if Sarah or I care.
How interesting that you compare your situation with Sarah Palin's.
Yes one can admire the fact that she has worked so hard to get a college degree (I won't use the word education since it does not seem to apply in her case as her education is sadly lacking on so many fronts) and even that she worked so hard to achieve her position in political life where I don't really know if she was a better mayor/governor than another person might have been.
But her disdainful treatment by the so called American "liberals" or her fellow Republicans is not based on keeping a socalled working person in her place. This is after all the United States of America where working class people can have enormous success. It is disdain for someone who is so far out of her league in ability to take on the job she was plucked out of almost obscurity to take on. Oh and statements like the USA is acting out God's plan by invading Iraq did not help her cause or her credibility nor her belief in creationism.
I doubt that anyone, ever, could have said the same of you. Ability brought you to the top of your field, not only the hard work.
Posted by: JMB | Thursday, December 03, 2009 at 05:20 PM
Since you missed out on that drink in Cannes, you will never be sure about the boots. As for Russia, until next week I can see it from where I am - in every direction. Greetings from Moscow. Mother Russia misses you.
Posted by: Tom | Wednesday, December 02, 2009 at 09:33 PM
Yes but Tom, you don't wear knee-high boots although you might be able to see Russia from where you're going.
Posted by: jameshigham | Wednesday, December 02, 2009 at 08:42 PM
Well said Tom I grew up in East end of London passed the 11 plus and went to grammar school in the late fifties before the grammar school reformation. Escape from the roots of poverty was enhanced and signposted by the education of that time. The differences between conservatism and socialism were there but by no means as tribal as today.
When the Oxford and Cambridge boat race took place each year there would have been no kid in my school who did not have a dark or light blue favour. The misplaced envy of the higher educated was nowhere to be seen
Posted by: Peter Whale | Wednesday, December 02, 2009 at 09:32 AM
I think you so have a point.
The left political class are basically patrician in outlook.
They know better. They want the rest of us to be grateful and dependant and to do as we are told.
Anyone who wants to stand on their own feet, who wants to "better themselves" is suspect and not to be tolerated.
Posted by: Moggsy | Wednesday, December 02, 2009 at 08:22 AM
Very true, the elite 'progressives' despise the aspirational working class I grew up in. I had a solid working class background steel working dad, council house, the idea of actually owning a home never crossed our minds. However my parents wanted more for me and our home was full of books, my mother was very bright and passed for grammer school but her large family couldn't afford the uniform and needed her to go to work. I was lucky made it to grammer school and university and, now retired, live in a nice house in the South East,took 30 years of slowly climbing the property ladder. I doubt if these opportunities are open to children of my background now as those with aspiration got out leaving only an underclass I see no hope of changing, just the way their masters like it. Most of these elites wouldn't know a real working class person if they fell over one. The education system has been ruined, I would be afraid to go into hospital now and no one would want to live in a coucil house if they had any choice. A lot of change has been for the better but I miss the country I grew up in.
Posted by: emma2000 | Wednesday, December 02, 2009 at 03:15 AM
I am increasingly convinced that many so-called "progressives" are more interested in being seen to care than actually in solving problems. Thus, it is better to advocate giving "the poor" someone else's money than to encourage them to work and so help themselves.
You are right, it is feudalism reborn. But now the serfs work their Lord's land by being good little victims and being grateful for their better's magnanimity.
Posted by: Charles | Tuesday, December 01, 2009 at 09:12 PM
There is no doubt that socialism controls they way our students ultimately think (government is oh so good etc)and the out come is no different here in The Bahamas.
Thanks for a refreshing angle on how to get the point across.
Posted by: Rick Lowe | Tuesday, December 01, 2009 at 12:53 PM