The opprobrium being piled upon Christine O’Donnell of Delaware is remarkable. She seems to be handling it with relative aplomb and a bit of wit, but the Conventional Wisdom from the Usual Suspects is that it will be effective. Some disagree.

One of the charges being hurled is that Ms. O’Donnell believes, or once believed, in witchcraft. Lexington Green at Chicago Boyz thinks this is a matter of class warfare:

The people in the media … don’t know anything about millions of their fellow citizens except their own class-based bigotries.

It isn’t just the media, of course. The political establishment is weighing in on the subject with gusto, mostly adopting the attitude that the charges will, in fact, damage Ms. O’Donnell.

If you have not done so already, go and read a short story by Cyril M. Kornbluth, published in 1951 and titled The Marching Morons. There is a summary on Wikipedia that isn’t entirely off the point, if you don’t want to take the time to search out the original. Go ahead; I’ll wait.

* * *

The Tinny-Peetes of the political establishment appear to be insisting that the background of any candidate must be squeaky-clean in order to make that candidate electable. Evidence that this attitude is not universal, and that it applies only (or much more stringently) to one group of political aspirants rather than others, abounds but isn’t relevant here. What is more important is the attitude that gives rise to the definition of “squeaky clean” in this context.

The impenetrably bigoted stereotype of the “bitter clinging hicks” it is the annoying duty of the Tinny-Peete class to manage disallows such a background, and their assumption is that that attitude informs voting patterns. Any candidate whose life history includes witchcraft, drug use, or (as seen elsewhere) homosexuality, “furrin” influence, or lack of religious orientation will, under that rubric, cause the candidate to be irredeemably flawed in the eyes of the ignorant morons, and the morons will either stay home or flock to the alternative, whatever that alternative may be — the candidate is not electable.

It is, at root, an assumption that what one might call the “68 movement” has utterly failed. To the extent that the stereotype was ever valid, it was a picture of the “uptight” Fifties culture, which the “hippies” sought to challenge by introducing civil rights and tolerance of alternate lifestyles. If that effort succeeded, the general population will discount such a history as mere eccentricity, and concentrate on the presently displayed character and proposed policies of the candidate. Assuming that they will not, that the voting public will respond to those categories of past behavior by rejecting the candidate out of hand, is assuming total failure of the entire liberal program of and since the Sixties.

Has that failure occurred? We will have to wait and see.

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