Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Alaska:
So, when Sarah Palin was picked as the Republican vice-presidential nominee, the e-mail poured in. “Not all Alaskan families are as weird as the Palins, right?” wrote a friend from California.
“Let me assure you,” I wrote back. “They are all freaks.”
I then described, at some length, the neighborhood I grew up in. There were my parents, superorthodox Catholics, complete with backyard statuary. Across the street, an Air Force officer and family. Next-door to them, a gay couple. Not just gay, but extra-flaming, mow-the-front-lawn-in-a-nightshirt-and-nothing-else kind of gay, walk-into-a-bar-yelling, “A beer for the queer!” kind of gay (in Alaska, in the 1960s!).
These crazy stories about Alaska’s libertarian-ish ethos make Palin’s sudden transformation into the nation’s premier culture warrior all the more ridiculous. She may have come from a traditional background, but her style of governance embodied some of the best aspects of ‘live and let live’ social pluralism.
And while I’m suspicious of overly-broad generalizations, this Alan Wolfe piece on how Palin fits into the divide between free-wheeling Western evangelicals and their more conservative Southern brethren also seems relevant. With Palin, the more I learn about her goofy background, the more I like her.