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Sarah Palin builds a bridge across the political divide

Posted by joshpainter on September 9, 2011

– by Josh Painter
Look up into the night sky for a moon of an unusual hue tonight, because another New York Times op-ed writer has discovered that Sarah Palin does indeed have substance, and she may not be the far right wing idealogue the left has been claiming she is for the past three years. Such Damascus Road revelations only occur at the Gray Lady once every blue moon.

Anand Giridharadas begins his commentary by admitting that liberals are woefully unprepared to recognize “something intelligent and wise and fresh about the present American condition” when Gov. Palin says it. Consequently, they don’t pay much attention to anything she has to say, nor is it likely that they read her policy statements on her Facebook Notes page. But the weekend Tea Party rally in Indianola, Iowa was enough of a high profile event that while most of his media colleagues were focused on the horse race, the governor’s actual remarks delivered there managed to catch Giridharadas’ attention:

She made three interlocking points. First, that the United States is now governed by a “permanent political class,” drawn from both parties, that is increasingly cut off from the concerns of regular people. Second, that these Republicans and Democrats have allied with big business to mutual advantage to create what she called “corporate crony capitalism.” Third, that the real political divide in the United States may no longer be between friends and foes of Big Government, but between friends and foes of vast, remote, unaccountable institutions (both public and private).

In supporting her first point, about the permanent political class, she attacked both parties’ tendency to talk of spending cuts while spending more and more; to stoke public anxiety about a credit downgrade, but take a vacation anyway; to arrive in Washington of modest means and then somehow ride the gravy train to fabulous wealth. She observed that 7 of the 10 wealthiest counties in the United States happen to be suburbs of the nation’s capital.

Her second point, about money in politics, helped to explain the first. The permanent class stays in power because it positions itself between two deep troughs: the money spent by the government and the money spent by big companies to secure decisions from government that help them make more money.


Because her party has agitated for the wholesale deregulation of money in politics and the unshackling of lobbyists, these will be heard in some quarters as sacrilegious words.

Ms. Palin’s third point was more striking still: in contrast to the sweeping paeans to capitalism and the free market delivered by the Republican presidential candidates whose ranks she has yet to join, she sought to make a distinction between good capitalists and bad ones. The good ones, in her telling, are those small businesses that take risks and sink and swim in the churning market; the bad ones are well-connected megacorporations that live off bailouts, dodge taxes and profit terrifically while creating no jobs.

Strangely, she was saying things that liberals might like, if not for Ms. Palin’s having said them.

Giridharadas has a wondrous Captain Obvious moment with his realization that “Ms. Palin may be hinting at a new political alignment that would pit a vigorous localism against a kind of national-global institutionalism.” Imagine his complete bewilderment when Giridharadas puts two and two together and realizes that, yes, this is precisely what the TEA Party movement is about.

At Legal Insurrection, William A. Jacobson comments:

A severe injustice has been perpetrated on the American people not by the vile derangement directed at Palin by the mainstream media, left-blogosphere and establishment conservative[s], but by the closing of their collective minds.


This probably will not signal a sea change in media coverage of Palin, or among conservative pundits. Liberals and conservatives alike have been played for fools by their media and their parties.

But hopefully it is a starting point of the recognition that Palin stands alone among major political figures in the United States seeking a transformation of the country consistent with its founding principles, not against them, principles which used to appeal to liberals. Palin’s anti-statist anti-crony capitalism message has the power to reach across parties, which is why that message gets buried in Palin Derangement Syndrome.

With Palin, liberals will not get their nanny state, but that nanny state is disappearing by economic necessity anyway. But they also will not get a crushing corporatist/unionist state serving the interests of the politically well-connected, which is where we are heading rapidly, and there is no offender worse than Barack Obama.

Oddly enough, Sarah Palin may be the one liberals have been waiting for.

What strikes us is that Sarah Palin is staking out positions which will significantly broaden her appeal. No, she’s not going after the liberals Professor Jacobson writes about. She would never win them over no matter how hard she tried. Rather, it is the key demographic of swing voters that Gov. Palin has her eye on, and likely the moderates in her own party are also in her field of vision. This is unusual because traditionally, Republicans swing wide to the right in the primary phases of the election cycle, then tack hard back to the center for the general election contest.

But Sarah Palin said that she would run an unconventional campaign, and nothing could be more unconventional than blazing a new trail though the wilderness of a presidential campaign. Part of this is born of necessity, as three years of attacks on Gov. Palin by the left and its compliant media have obscured her appeal to the center — blue collar Democrats, independents and moderate Republicans. She needs these critical voting blocks. If she can convince her party that she will be more than competitive in the general election, then she can secure the GOP presidential nomination.

Stephen Bannon’s documentary “The Undefeated” was only the opening salvo of what may turn out to be the most innovative presidential campaign ever conducted. The film reminds viewers why Gov. Palin was chosen for the second spot on John McCain’s ticket. She is a reformer who, at least before the McCain campaign used her as their attack dog, was wildly popular with Alaskans from across the entire political spectrum. Her recent Facebook op-ed reaching out to the union rank and file is another step in the process of appealing to the political center.

Notice that Sarah Palin, who governed her state from the center right, is building new roads through that same territory, while Rick Perry has chosen the well-worn path that runs along the right edge of the GOP base. But Perry, who has the occasional tendency to be a loose cannon, may eventually find himself the victim of his own rhetorical volleys. Gov. Palin apparently sees another political figure as her real competition for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. Mitt Romney, who has been playing it safe in the center, may not even realize that a bulldozer is headed his way with Sarah Palin in the driver’s seat.

Cross-posted from Texans for Sarah Palin

– JP

One Response to “Sarah Palin builds a bridge across the political divide”

  1. Joy said

    Ah, Josh Painter says what I’ve been saying now for the past few weeks (culminating in my contemplation of her two speeches Labor Day weekend): Namely, he opines (as do I) that the GOP contest will come down to Romney & Palin; of course, he hints at what I predict – i.e., Palin’s victory in the primary contests – but then it’s anyone’s guess who wins in November. I hesitate to call it with certainty; ’cause although I think, normal circumstances, Palin would be the winner, there’s no telling what a wounded – and completely deranged & dangerous – DNC and the thug unions might do to “steal” the election (it’s been known to happen – DUH!!). Fingers crossed, however, that won’t be our fate in 2012!!

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