Explaining Sarah Palin: cultural hegemony in America

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I argue that 2008 U.S. vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s massive popularity among white working class voters was a product of what Antonio Gramsci would have called consensual control. Just as Gramsci took notice of the unique ensemble of forces that he dubbed Americanism, this paper argues that American liberalism has perpetuated a myth of classlessness that tends to mystify the lived reality of working class Americans and deceives them into embracing a system of values and belief that serves the interests of the ruling class at the expense of their own. I demonstrate that the so-called culture war, re-activated by Sarah Palin in the 2008 election, is significant terrain upon which American hegemony is negotiated. Finally, I make the case that during a period of hegemonic crisis Sarah Palin’s role was to intensify hegemonic activity by personifying the American Dream and reinforcing it in white working class voters.
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