Sarah Palin Lost Because She Doesn't Have a Cult
If you have a political cult, you can do anything and they let you get away with it. If you don't, then . . . there can be problems.
1. On Cults
Watching Sarah Palin lose last night got me thinking about The Focus Group episode Sarah Longwell did with Alaska voters.
Over and over, Republicans—even those who said they were going to vote for her—said that they didn’t really like Palin and were pissed that she’d resigned as governor back in 2009.
And then, last night, she paid the price for it. Two things about this struck me as important:
There were no anti-anti-Palins out there defending her resignation.
Alaska Republican held it against her enough to vote for a Democrat in meaningful numbers.
This is the difference between being a celebrity politician and being the leader of a cult.
No matter what he does, Donald Trump is always defended rhetorically by some large percentage of Republicans. And only a very small percentage of Republicans are ever able to bring themselves to support a Democrat in opposition to Trump.1
Think I’m kidding about that first point? Uh-uh.
Whether we’re talking about blackmailing Ukraine with military aid, talking nonsense about COVID, spreading lies about the 2020 election, inciting an insurrection, or stealing classified documents, there are always Republican/conservative institutional elites on standby to defend, excuse, dissemble, and obfuscate on Trump’s behalf.
Because it’s a cult.
And no matter what Trump does, Republicans vote with him. In 2016, Trump captured 92 percent of self-identified Republican voters. In 2020, with the economy in tatters and COVID raging out of control, he increased that number to 94 percent.
I point all of this out because one of the recurring question we have is