Why do people like Sarah Palin?

3 08 2010

Do you know why so many people like Sarah Palin?  Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post has figured it all out:

It’s not Palin’s positions people respond to — it’s her use of symbols. Mama grizzlies rearing up to protect their young? That’s straight out of Jung’s “collective unconscious” — the term Jung used to describe the part of the unconscious mind that, unlike the personal unconscious, is shared by all human beings, made up of archetypes, or, in Jung’s words, “universal images that have existed since the remotest times.” Unlike personal experiences, these archetypes are inherited, not acquired. They are “inborn forms… of perception and apprehension,” the “deposits of the constantly repeated experiences of humanity.”

This is the realm Palin is working in — I’m sure unintentionally — and it’s why she has connected so deeply with a large segment of the public. In fact, her evocation of mama grizzlies has a particularly resonant history in the collective unconscious. According to the Jungian Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism, “The bear has long fascinated mankind, partly because of its habit of hibernation, which may have served as a model of death and rebirth in human societies.”

Supposedly this tendency of the collective unconscious is much more powerful when there’s a national crisis, and that this is how Ronald Reagan was re-elected in 1984, that it had nothing to do with policy issues.  Huffington explains the same technique is being used by Palin now (unintentionally, of course), and that it’s very dangerous:

Jung himself was exquisitely aware of such a possibility, saying that during troubled conditions experienced by large numbers of people “explosive and dangerous forces hidden in the archetype come into action, frequently with unpredictable consequences. There is no lunacy people under the domination of an archetype will not fall prey to.”

Re-read that last sentence again, and then join me in a collective “whoa”.  That sounds like any crazy thing could happen.  And that if you talk about bears and other such symbols, people will follow any crazy scheme you come up with.  There may be a “herd mentality” to some degree, but everyone is not that gullible and naive.

Notice the not-so-subtle implication that the public vote for people like Reagan and Palin only because they’re deceived by archetypes.  It couldn’t be because of policy.  Those leaders don’t connect with people through personality or morals or any other talents or virtues; they just accidentally stumble into some mystic / psychological brainwashing power of archetypes.  If you happen to talk about mama grizzlies, people will respect and follow you more, I guess…

The article also says part of Palin’s appeal is that she promotes herself as a celebrity instead of a politician.  Doesn’t that sound like somebody who just ran a historic campaign, someone who won and became President?  Hmm…

The article closes up with a summary of the current times and how that could work for Palin and her use of archetypes.  Unemployment is predicted to remain high, our economic recovery has stalled, and Americans don’t have much faith in the current political system, so people will probably respond irrationally because they’re afraid, and they will gravitate to whatever fills the vacuum.  Hmm… not to sound like a broken record, but didn’t that just happen with Barack Obama’s election?  He didn’t have much experience — about as much as Palin does (or less), and he didn’t run on policy but “change” and “hope”, and people were upset at the then-current institution.   Now Democrats control Congress and the presidency, yet people are still upset about politicians and government.  Perhaps the message from the collective, the great unwashed masses, is that almost all politicians — both Democrats and Republicans — are greedy, corrupt, self-serving, and inept, and that it’s time for real change.

Obama promised change, and there’s still time left in his term, but so far it sure seems like politics as normal, except at an even greater pace (which is not good).  Maybe it’s time for Americans to elect politicians who actually follow the Constitution and our other laws, who actually represent what the voters want, and who will quit wasting our money and bankrupting our country…  One can hope for such change…




One response

3 08 2010
if you talk about bears, people will do what you say « Buffet o' Blog

[…] if you talk about bears, people will do what you say There’s an article at the Huffington Post that explains why people like and follow Sarah Palin — it’s because she talks about mama grizzlies.  I know, some of you will think I’m making that up.  It does sound like randomness, which is what this blog specializes in, but it’s an actual article and it looks to be serious.   The author of it goes into archetypes and the “collective unconscious” proposed by Carl Jung.   You can read a summary of it with some quotes from it and some analysis here: Why do people like Sarah Palin? […]

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