Would Palin’s Popularity Translate to Real Votes?
August 25, 2011 - 6:53 am
From the moment she raised her dainty foot to the national stage, Sarah Palin has intrigued Americans.
She has been a lightning rod in the fight for the soul of feminism, incurring the wrath and scorn of now-dominant leftist feminists, even as she has rallied the usually silent forces of traditional women. The struggle for the hearts and minds of young women is ongoing, but Palin’s Momma Grizzly feminism has at least made it a real fight, in which traditional women have got a shot at reigniting the “we want both” (family and paying careers), genuine feminism.
Palin has attracted a sizable swath of male supporters, not only because of her obvious appeal and coy charisma, but also on the strength of her feisty record against entrenched interests in her home state. Palin’s earthy, down-home persona seems perfectly fit for the citizen government our founders designed. She is enormously popular in the heartland, as evidenced again and again by her hugely successful bus tours and public appearances.
And there is no question that vast numbers of Americans are yearning for a return to constitutional populism. This can be summed up in two words: Tea Party.
These factors, along with Palin’s motherly, yet all-American-girl-next-door image, have made her one of the most popular women ever to enter our national psyche.
But as Sarah Palin contemplates a run for the presidency, she must surely be asking herself whether her immense popularity will indeed translate into real votes in the hotly contested Republican primaries.
I think it is very possible – perhaps even likely – that if Sarah Palin runs for president now, she will be disappointed. Americans voted for the cult of personality last time around and the results have been so disastrous that there has been a national sobering since 2008. Americans voted for a “first” black president, only to see once again that no man ought to be judged by the color of his skin, that character does indeed count and that proven competence counts even more.
This national growing-wiser from painful, rash decisions will affect votes for Palin in ways that may seem unfair. But are Republican primary voters really going to run out in big numbers to hoist another “first” – the first woman – onto the national ticket? I just don’t see that happening. But life is not fair.
Michele Bachmann has enormous appeal as a very conservative female candidate too, but her leadership bona-fides are restricted to a mere 2-1/2 terms in the U.S. House. Despite having won the Iowa straw poll, and having herself declared the “smart Sarah Palin” by some influential media people, Bachmann’s candidacy has been quickly eclipsed by the very experienced and successful governor of Texas. The other governor in the race, Mitt Romney, is in 2nd place. Governor creds are stacking up as all-important.
Palin’s resume is almost as thin as Bachmann’s. Being governor of Alaska, the least populous state in the union, with only a little more than 700,000 residents, for a mere 2 years, does not really seem to hold enough weight this time around. For instance, the single city of Austin, Texas has more residents than the entire state of Alaska. Would Americans vote for a guy or gal who had nothing real on his/her resume but a resigned position as Mayor of Austin as president? I don’t think so. This isn’t 2008.
When Sarah Palin resigned the governorship of Alaska and traded real political office for celebrity status, many of those who still admire her and listen to her on political matters marked her off a list of those they would consider for the job of president. And Palin’s rather defiant thin-skin seems to many all too similar to Barack Obama’s. Not a few conservatives have even said that Palin seems the mirror image of Barack Obama – young, charismatic, appealing – but thin on real experience.
I sincerely hope Sarah Palin decides to keep doing the job she has now, which is of huge benefit to conservatives, most especially conservative women. But if she does decide to run, I believe she will find that popularity will not translate into substantial numbers of real votes among a sober, looking-for-proven-substance electorate.
I might be completely wrong. Been wrong so many times I lost count at about age 20. I remain a stalwart admirer of Sarah Palin’s many gifts. But I can’t help thinking that if even I would not vote for Sarah, how about those who never really warmed to her in the first place?
Would love to know others’ thoughts on this.