To the Republican base, Sarah Palin represents many things: a trailblazer for female candidates, a “pro-life” stalwart, a devoted mother, an athletic superstar, a moose hunter extraordinaire and a stylish crowd-pleaser unafraid to speak her conservative mind.
But for a segment of the Republican base — the religious right — Palin represents something more divine: a heaven-sent, conservative answer to the sort of feminism claimed by liberal women. But while Palin’s call for the “Mama Grizzlies” of the conservative movement to roar their version of feminism does get that part of the base riled up, Palin will never rise to be more than a motivational leader of the religious right.
In her Newsweek cover story, “Saint Sarah,” Lisa Miller wrote, “The Christian right is now poised to become a women’s movement — and Sarah Palin is its earthy Jerry Falwell.”
That’s a major prediction, and not one that is suggested either by the past or the present.
Palin, it’s true, has a certain star power that other religious right women lack. To her fellow Pentecostals and charismatics, especially, Palin is “anointed” — a figure sent by God to perform his will. But that’s very different from being the organizational leader of a movement.