Sarah Palin — A post-Election Tribute
By: Guest Authors
by David Bozeman
It is now a cliche: I was going to vote for John McCain because he was the lesser of two evils, but then he picked Sarah Palin and I was jazzed.
As we know, she revved up a conservative engine stuck in idle and even McCain started to look better with her on the ticket. By election night I had come full circle and was more disappointed at her loss (should I be admitting this?).
She endured criticism from the right, of course. George Will, Peggy Noonan and Kathleen Parker questioned her qualifications and ability to be vice-president. Even now, members of the McCain campaign, who should be thanking her that their ticket was not wiped out in a landslide, are piling on. Her biggest fans know that she never governed strictly as a conservative — a controversial sports arena in her hometown and taxes on oil companies as governor — but then how many Republicans have?
With her stands on tax relief, smaller government, energy independence and drilling, she passes conservative muster, so her fans can focus on what makes her unique. She champions, in her day-to-day life, small town, red state Americans over intellectual elitists, often standing, unfortunately, against members of our own conservative movement.
She doesn’t just serve well as an abstract representative of this particular segment of society. She is human and she defines authenticity. She has never had to create a photo-op to show that she is a regular person — remember John Kerry applying for a hunting license! The images of the VP nominee stopping her campaign motorcade to buy diapers in a Walmart and of firing an assault weapon with the Alaskan troops in Kuwait are beyond the venom of even Peggy Noonan’s pen. Sarah Palin is genuine, her critics know it and they hate her for it. To be honest, I sort of liked the fact that she fumbled her interviews with Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric — a human contrast to the polished, political prima-donnas I thought we wanted a change from (though I was relieved to see her perform well against Joe Biden in the VP debate).
Authenticity is certainly no substitute for leadership, but her political resume speaks for itself and her stands on most issues are crystal clear. The story of her ascendency in public life reads almost like a modern-day Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, but sadly, in this day and age, a conservative politician is rarely the subject of warm human parables.
Back to her persona, one moment in the 2008 campaign stands apart, a moment when authenticity and humanity merged and defined Sarah Palin. In her acceptance speech at the Republican Convention she spoke of the joy of raising her son Trig, a Down Syndrome baby and of the challenge of “making the world a more welcoming place for special needs children,” a reason many such children and their families stand in line to see her. According to some estimates, 80% of Down Syndrome babies are aborted. Her words alone, backed with her and her family’s love, deserve the praise of everyone who cares about children. Whether or not one thinks she was qualified to be vice-president, she is worth more to our public discourse than a mere punch line.
With youth, charm and a fighting spirit, a bright future in political life certainly awaits. What that will be is irrelevant here and now. She has inspired legions of hockey moms and Joe-Six-Packs to take a place in public life. As the most un-Washington of the four major candidates in 2008 (and, again, wasn’t this election about change?), she offered a small-town perspective and personified rugged self-reliance, common sense and the self-assuredness to weather harsh criticism without losing her temper or her smile.
When the history of modern conservatism is written, William F. Buckley could well be defined as its brain, Rush Limbaugh its mouthpiece and Ronald Reagan its muscle. Sarah Palin is surely its heart. I know she stole mine.