I just got back from hearing Sarah Palin speak to a crowd of 6,000 enthusiastic supporters in what was proudly billed as the largest Chamber of Commerce dinner ever. There have been lots of reports on this Salina, Kan.-speech already, but sufficeth to say it was classic Sarah – autobiographical, authentic, emotional, and a tasty appetizer before what will undoubtedly be her Tea Party main course tonight.
Afterward I had the delightful experience of sharing a late Italian meal with two other Conservatives4Palin posters (and a friend of a C4Per) all of whom I’d never met until Friday. It turned out I was the only non-attorney at the table. Ha! I want to thank “A” and “AlwaysFiredUp” for an incredibly stimulating conversation where I walked away feeling that one thing was certain: Sarah will become president – if we who love her refuse to give up on her.
And, why is it so hard (given the current mood of the country) to imagine that she could win in 2012? (“A” predicts Sarah will cruise to a 49-50-state blowout. And, I have to trust him because he’s been following her career since 2006 and is a very analytical guy).
It strikes me that many of us Sarah Palin supporters (myself included) float between hope and fear: we adore Sarah and would love to see her run for president (we’d walk across hot broken glass for her), but we fear she could not win. Even the most ardent Sarah fans suffer from this failure of confidence. We believe the enemy propaganda: that her enemies are stronger than her -- and stronger than us.
I talked with a lady while waiting in the frigid cold for the shuttle bus Friday night and she was truly scared for Sarah: “I love Sarah but I hope she doesn't run for president. I don’t want her to go through what they’ll throw at her again. And I don’t think the media will let her win.”
Others think the GOP might be Sarah's insurmountable obstacle: AlwaysFiredUp thinks every Republican with a pulse will be vying to run against what she believes could be a severely weakened Obama, and the crowded field may be to Sarah's disadvantage. My aunt in Utah is similarly pessimistic: “I love Sarah, but the Republicans won’t let her win.” To which I replied: "Well, they still have to let people vote, you know.”
Granted, there will be opposition in the media and the party, but why should we settle for anything LESS THAN SARAH if that’s who we want? If we give up on her before she’s even started, how WILL she ever win?
This reminds me of what the Hillbuzz guys call the “Eyeore Republicans.” We give up too easy. I admit myself that I am too quick to believe negative propaganda. (Hey, I’m a Recovering Democrat with occasionally eyeore syndrome). I have too little faith sometimes in our side, and too much fear of the other side. I lose focus. I had to take six months off from politics after the election in ’08 I was so depressed.
But here’s the thing: We need Sarah.
And if some hater tries to tell you: well, GEE, she was mayor of a town of 9,000 – that’s smaller than the medium-sized suburb you live in. And she was only governor of Alaska, the fourth-least populated state in America. You tell them: Local government governs best. Mention the corruption in some of the larger cities and ask them which large-city mayor or large-state governor they’d rather have as president.
Sarah has a vision of limited government that is grounded in her experience at the local and state level. And she makes this clear every time she talks. In the 35-minute speech last night she displayed what I see as an innate libertarianism – perhaps her strongest expressions of it to date. Two-thirds of her address assailed the evils of government interference – not just in over-taxing, but also over-regulating. She drew the sharpest connection yet between government overstepping its bounds and the corruption and cronyism that accompany government largess. She invoked the Constitution, namely, the 10th Amendment, in reminding us that the best government is local. “The Feds need to keep their hands out of state business. We can’t legislate a favorable economic climate from Washington. It needs to be started at the local level,” she said.
I got a kick out of a couple of her anecdotes that I hadn’t heard before: she said some on the Wasilla council wanted to regulate whether businesses could have flashing signs. Another time they wanted to prevent the local barber pole from spinning. “We didn’t even have a barber shop with a barber pole, but people wanted rules to regulate it if we ever got one,” she laughed. She voted against both measures, opting to let people (and business owners) “think for themselves.”
(She didn’t mention it in the speech, but this reminded me of the fact that Sarah also nixed her council’s idea to close the Wasilla bars earlier than the customary 3 a.m., perhaps to the disappointment of the tee-totaling crowd.)The point is: Who are we going to trust to cut government? Why not Sarah?
As mayor, her focus was on cutting taxes on small business and providing the core infrastructure (sewer and roads) that were truly needed, the city services that would allow business development to expand.
As governor, she followed a similar “keep it simple pattern” pattern, laying out four keys for her state government:
1) Live within means
2) Develop energy sources
3) Provide core services
4) Save for a rainy day.
”It was not always the easy path,” she said. “I had to butt heads with the legislature. And the media didn’t always agree with me. Some things never change.”
The bottom line: everywhere Sarah has gone, the conditions have improved: her city, her state, (her nation?) She left them better than she found them. And it must be so frustrating (indeed the anguish shows in her demeanor) when she looks at the horrific abuses going on at the federal level. As she turned her attention to the national level in her speech, she spoke loathingly of TARP, quoting Rep. Paul Ryan that the TARP has morphed into “crony capitalism of the worst kind.”
(Incidentally, Ryan was the only Republican she mentioned by name in her whole speech, except for thanking Kansas Congressman Jerry Moran for introducing her.)
The foundation for a better future isn’t that complicated. And the answers aren’t all found in D.C. or in the highly populated cities or states – where big government lives.
Small-town Sarah Palin would be an unlikely president, to be sure. But her story would be no more unlikely than the story of America itself: a bunch of ragtag patriots in sparsely populated colonies taking on the British Empire.
And as “A” reminded me: Sarah's already conquered similar mountains on a "smaller" level. She should never have become governor. Odds were not in her favor. You just don’t take on the sitting governor of your own party in a primary. And if you somehow win the primary, well, you just don’t defeat a popular former Democratic governor who has the media on his side. You just don’t do it.
Unless you’re Sarah Palin. Yes, she can.