This week Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska and darling of the conservative movement within the Republican Party, resigned for no apparent reason. And there were those in the Democrat Party and in the Republican Party who cheered. Those Democrats who embraced Palin’s decision were happy because Palin represents a conservative threat not seen since Reagan. Those on the right who cheered are indicative of precisely what is wrong with Republicans today.
As an intern working under Karl Rove in the White House in November of 2006, my colleagues and I quickly became admirers of Sarah Palin–a singular victory in an otherwise tumultuous mid-term. An articulate, young, unabashedly conservative outsider had swept into the Alaskan Governorship and we all knew that her star was destined not to stop there. I won’t deny there were a few inappropriate remarks thrown around, “G.I.L.F.” being the one I heard most frequently, but that wasn’t the only reason to believe in Palin. She turned Alaskan politics on its ear, espousing true conservative values and reflecting them in her personal life.
While Palin may no longer be a viable Republican nominee in 2012, I would not count her out. Nixon famously quit politics in 1962 only to be elected four years later.
It is, however, silly not to concede that Palin is a beautiful woman. In the months after Palin’s nomination as McCain’s V.P. choice, this came to be the biggest fault found in Palin. Despite the fact that many naive Republicans will applaud what they believe is the end of Palin’s career, no one was happier to see her resign than Democrats. Make no mistake, Sarah Palin was not dangerous to the Republican Party (should we even call it a party anymore? Seriously?), she was an apocalyptic threat to the Democrat Party. Palin routinely eviscerates unfair stereotypes liberals attach to conservatives, which squishy Republicans for some reason feel the need to defend, thereby granting them validity. As a family-woman, a mother, the epitome to the pro-life movement and a staunch bulwark against political elitism as an outsider getting things done inside Alaska, Palin became quickly became a favorite of most Americans.
The McCain campaign has been run over and over again. Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, and Bob Dole ran the same campaign as McCain and lost similarly to young, smooth talking neophytes who quickly proceeded to make a mockery of the presidency. When will Republicans learn to stop running moderate-to-liberal candidates who are strong on defense? When Republicans nominate conservative candidates, espousing conservative values unabashedly, they win big, almost all of the time. But surely Sarah was a drag on the campaign, with the upper-mid-western drawl and “aw, shucks” speeches, right? Wrong.
Bob Dole and a much younger, but still quite old John McCain in 1995... Their presidential campaigns were a two for one sale.
Ronald Reagan too was an “aw shucks” type candidate. Liberals viciously attacked him and America voted for him in two landslides. Indeed, Palin shook the roof off of every venue in which she spoke, and shook the Left down to their very core. Palin’s unabashed conservatism ignited a campaign that was dead in the water—if only until the McCain campaign muzzled her.
And thus, it was imperative that liberal Democrats destroy her. Liberals, from the day she was announced as the V.P. nod, set about attacking Palin’s clothes, hair, accent, verbiage, her good looks, her religion, her state, her hobbies, her husband, her daughters, her downs syndrome son—anything but her ideas and beliefs—because that resonated with America. Anything to distract from those. And Republicans, keeping in the tradition of Jack Kemp, who famously thanked Al Gore for the backhanded compliment that Kemp was not like all the other bigoted, sexist Republicans in his party, played into their hands.
Establishment Republicans (read: country-club Republicans) rushed not to be equated with Palin, as Tina Fey and the rest of the media (using some of the most despicable libel I’ve ever witnessed) built up a straw woman to be torn down. And Republicans stepped back, refusing to stand for anything meaningful, and perhaps, ultimately, losing their next shot at redemption. With the end of the McCain’s awful White House run, when McCain went back to being Democrats’ favorite Republican, liberals didn’t call off the dogs. In fact, they heightened their attacks. Palin has endured fifteen ethics investigations, which have cost her $500,000 personally and the state of Alaska millions in legal fees, resulting in zero charges and zero disciplinary actions. Sarah Palin was lynched by political bigots on the left and the right. Palin, the consummate political outsider, decided that paralyzing government while she defended herself, like Bill Clinton did, was unacceptable.
If Sarah Palin was not a dynamic threat to the Democrat establishment and the flaccid Republican status quo, there is no way the media and the Democrats would have launched such a four alarm assault on her. For example, if Sarah Palin were indeed the walking gaffe machine that one poor interview, Saturday Night Live and Vanity Fair might have us believe, would not Democrats do as Republicans did to the mind-numbingly dim Joe Biden and let her supposed stupidity speak for itself—as Biden’s did repeatedly during the campaign?
We need more candidates like Gov. Palin, who are political outsiders. Perhaps Palin's family life played the biggest part in her decision to step aside. No greater sign of someone whose head is screwed on properly than someone who places family first.
Indeed, Palin was attacked because she had the ability to unite conservative Democrats and Republicans into a winning coalition, as any true conservative does. And she still does. Sarah Palin knows what she is doing, and those who are reporting her demise are likely premature. Sure, she smacks of her blue collar roots, and ruffles feathers. If polished, same old same old candidates are what the Republican party is looking for, however, we already have several hundred serving in Congress—and doing a bang up job, by the way. Sarah Palin’s P.T.O. president to Governor tale is one Republicans should embrace, because that is what we need.
The definition of insanity, it is said, is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. Elitist Republicans like Peggy Noonan who sniped at Palin embody exactly what is wrong with the party currently—they embrace leftist premises and shun those who embody comprehensive conservatism. Republicans have to jettison the Christian-right, or pro-lifers, or social conservatives in order to win, they always say—its always packaged differently but the end game is the same. Beltway Republicans want to go back to the days of arguing on Democrats’ terms, and pretending to be able to do what Democrats promise, only better. We end up with Dole in 1996, or McCain in 2008. So long as the party embraces politics as usual, and plays to an elusive center, Republicans will continue to lose elections. And it is insane.
David Teesdale found it extremely difficult to write a pro-Palin piece without the entire piece amounting to the inane anti-Republican Party scribblings on his bedroom walls written in blood-red ink. He believes he found a healthy balance. Comments are welcome, and you may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org