Arianna Huffington: It's time to start taking Palin seriously

Two possibilities. One: She’s trying to puff Palin up because, like the rest of the left, she’s eager to face her in 2012. Two: She’s nervous. Hmmmmm.

We are awash in crises right now — crises that require smart and creative policy fixes. So why is somebody who so rarely deals in policy fixes so popular? It’s because Palin’s message operates on a level deeper than policy statements about the economy or financial reform or health care or the war in Afghanistan…

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.”

Read her post for the rest. Translation: Sure, Palin’s a doofus, but her ads are smart (which is true) and our media’s pretty doofus-y too, and with an electorate that’s too terrified to do the obviously right thing by voting liberal, anything’s possible. This is standard argumentation among hyperpartisans of all stripes — remember George Lakoff reassuring liberals that they lost elections because crafty conservatives were better at branding? — but you’ll see it in spades if/when Palin gains traction. The point, as always, is to reassure fellow hyperpartisans that it’s not the opposition’s policies that voters find appealing but something (anything!) else, and since their contempt for Palin runs deeper than it does for the rest of the GOP field, the explanations for her success will have to be that much more creative. Hence the hyperventilating over Jungian magic or whatever that’s supposedly being practiced via what’s actually a painfully simple, even heavy-handed animal metaphor. You’re going to see a lot of this if she’s the nominee, and it’ll all run along the same lines: Palin’s practicing some sort of witchcraft or hypnosis or unleashing America’s “id,” etc etc, all geared towards insisting that her appeal is, and can only be, operating on a sub-cerebral level. That’s the goal here — to suggest that, because no thinking person could vote for her, this is all playing out somehow in America’s subconscious. Credit to Arianna for framing it in terms of Jung, at least. Most of the lazier pieces you’ll see in this vein, and there’ll be many more, will stick with Freud.