I have been asked repeatedly about my thoughts on Sarah Palin. I figured, hey, what better first political post on my new blog than one in which I alienate at least half of my fellow conservatives? So here goes.
Last year, when John McCain chose Sarah Palin to be his running mate in the 2008 presidential election, I was excited about the energy that she brought to the campaign. It was nice to see people excited about a Republican candidate, who seemed to embrace conservatism.
During that campaign, however, Sarah Palin became a very divisive figure. She used language that tended toward the incendiary, such as “pals around with terrorists.” She identified enemies, both political and in the media, and stoked the public’s anger toward them.
In Palin’s defense, she was fired upon first. Make no mistake about it, from the ridiculous accusations about the maternity of her infant son, to the relentless mocking, to the over-sexualizing, Palin did not start this war with the media and the left. She was merely hitting back.
Regardless of who started it, and whether or not Palin was treated unfairly, which I think she was, she continues to be intentionally divisive. She is not merely divisive because of her policies, in the way that other politicians with strong ideologies are. She intends to create disunity for disunity’s sake. She is feeding the “us vs. them” mentality.
We are living in a time when there is a lot of division and intentional divisiveness. We do not need more; we need less. We do not need a Sarah Palin to energize a narrowly defined segment of the right by preaching to the choir.
What we need is someone with a well-defined platform of ideas and the ability to articulate how said ideas will benefit the masses. Conservatism, and by that I mean the less-government, more-freedom variety, not the religious right or the corporatists, is a reasonable ideology with applications that are both popular and beneficial to the public.
Sarah Palin, from what I have seen, is not out there putting forth good conservative ideas, except where they can act as a rallying cry against something the Democrats are doing. She does not seem to have a cohesive ideology, but more of a patchwork of anti-liberal ideas that can be used to energize the far-right.
The political reality of the country is that elections are decided by the non-committeds, those voters who have not sworn to support the left or right, but who decide each election based on their current situation and the current candidates. To reach those voters, we need a candidate who can put aside the partisan zingers and focus on finding conservative solutions to our current problems, then articulate those ideas to the people.
Don’t get me wrong, someone like Sarah Palin – someone who is not ashamed to be conservative, someone who has a dynamic personality the attracts people to her – would be great for the Republican Party.
Unfortunately, Sarah Palin is, as they say, damaged goods. There is too much baggage attached to her. I suspect, if she emerges as the standard-bearer of the right, she will only succeed at pushing conservatism further into the wilderness and away from the mainstream.
At the risk of sounding alarmist, there is too much at stake to let that happen.