ST. PAUL, Minn. As Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin spoke to an energized Republican Party convention last night, a curious group of men clad only in Brooks Brothers Bermuda shorts gathered around a box of 20 Mule Team Borax, the laundry booster and multi-purpose cleaner, outside the Excel Center, chanting “Bring back Dutch, Bring back Dutch.”
While convention goers ignored them, the political reporter for “Nick at Nite” recognized the brand and the connection immediately. “Ronald ‘Dutch’ Reagan was host of ‘Death Valley Days’ in the mid-1960s,” said Leonard Orthwine, “and 20 Mule Team Borax was the sponsor!”
The men cast furtive glances at passersby before launching into the love theme from “Bedtime for Bonzo”, and at that point riot police moved in with nightsticks to break up the ritual. “Move along, now,” said Seamus Harrigan, a twenty-year veteran of the St. Paul Police Department who shakes his head and says “I thought I’d seen it all, but that’s a new one on me.”
The clandestine group is a “cargo cult” seeking to recall Ronald Reagan from the spirit world in the same way that South Pacific islanders try to recreate material goods brought to their islands by magical incantations and mimetic ceremonies that include the construction of non-working airplanes and landing strips.
“Cargo cults are formed by primitive peoples in response to the shock they receive when they see the wealth that western civilization can produce,” says Claude Levy-Friel of the University of Ontario-Toronto. “Republicans in the 80’s thought they’d never regain the White House after Watergate, so they consider the departed Ronald Reagan to be an all-powerful deity.”
Since Reagan left office in 1989, Republicans have been searching for a candidate who could attract members of their rival tribe, the Democratic Party, in much the same way that Reagan attracted the votes of “Reagan Democrats” to help him win even traditionally liberal states such as Massachusetts.
“We pray for the return of Ronald Reagan because we don’t think Senator McCain is such a leader,” said Oswald Toomey of Truth-or-Consequences, New Mexico. “Maybe if McCain or Palin would use Grecian Formula it would help.”