Living in Northern Michigan a few years back, I had some auto work done and needed a courtesy ride from the shop. A retired gentleman from downstate (Detroit) drove me home; he told me how much he enjoyed living up north because downstate, he no longer felt at home. There were just too many foreigners and too many Blacks.
I'll not forget the conversation ... I listened, he lamented.
I suspect some of the hatred spewing out of the far right at the McPalin rallies reflects the "homelessness" experienced by many Americans who were born and reared in one age and now find themselves strangers in a strange land.
Check out the following video - look and listen - are they not "homeless" in America? They've been uprooted and made to grow in a radically new environment, and they're scared, even as they can't, or won't, comprehend the world as it is.
"Pinko Communist," an elderly man shouted. Talk about a time-warp, a blast from the past, but he was using an epithet he had used in the McCarthy era - something sure and solid, something for certain. When all else fails, start name-calling. It feels good for the powerless and the lost.
They're sad for the loss of orientation, and the loss of feeling important and valuable. They're frustrated because what they once knew doesn't fit very well any more. Their children have likely moved on; retirement pensions are shrinking. They no longer feel at home, and now McPalin gives them an opportunity to reach down into all of that fear, all of that hatred (for we hate what we fear, if the fear continues long enough), and give vent to it.
And something darker ... life is always about who's on top and who isn't. Only by grace does one overcome such instincts, but for millions of white folk, the position of privilege was never questioned, even if you were a redneck sharecropper, down on your luck, you at least black folks to despise.
Barbara Kingsolver, in her delightful book of essays, High Tide in Tucson, observes in an essay on bad science in service of racial superiority: the privileged have not yet tired of hearing how righteously they came by their place at the table (essay entitled, "Semper Fi").
There have always been racists and hate-filled people - it's a DNA thing, but many of the McPalin folks live decent lives. Quiet lives, likely never thinking very much about ultimate values - they work too hard, their churches are not likely to help them grow emotionally or intellectually - good and decent folk who watch a lot of TV.
P.S. If you want to see a sad example of how the church fails these folks (since most of them would be either conservative evangelical/Baptist types or Roman Catholics, check out this video of an "evangelical" pastor giving the invocation at a McCain rally - an example of a terribly distorted understanding of Scripture and a pandering to the powers-that-be.