The Anti-Leader's Leader
A leader's appeal is based both on that leader's qualities and the attitudes of her followers. Sarah Palin has many detractors, but she also has enthusiastic followers. Until we have good studies of Palin's followers, I think we can make some assumptions based on the kinds of people who have come to her defense.
Sure, it's clear that some of her supporters are Republican strategists who believe she can stir up excitement in the base and possibly turn people against President Obama. But the larger number of Palin's followers (at least if we define them based on conversations heard on right-wing radio, which is admittedly limiting) appear to be people who resent the liberal elite, whom they believe are benefiting from the global economy while they are left behind.
They see the government handing out billions to bankers while they are losing their jobs. Palin tells them that she is not going to waste their money by taking junkets, like other lame ducks do. Palin's supporters believe that they are more patriotic than other people; they are the "real Americans" Palin celebrates. Some are right-to-life fundamentalists who applaud Palin because she is against the liberals who support abortion.
Palin's supporters don't trust leaders in general, and her farewell speech as governor implied that people should follow her because she doesn't want to be a leader. Believe it or not, that makes sense to her followers.
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