“You wouldn’t believe how badly they treated her,” an insider friend told me of Sarah Palin not too long ago. I assumed this person meant the Republican establishment. One can only imagine what they’ve been up to.
So Thursday night the former Alaska governor posted the following on her Facebook page:
The votes of every member of Congress affect every American, so it’s important for all of us to pay attention to this important Congressional campaign in upstate New York. I am very pleased to announce my support for Doug Hoffman in his fight to be the next Representative from New York’s 23rd Congressional district. It’s my honor to endorse Doug and to do what I can to help him win, including having my political action committee, SarahPAC, donate to his campaign the maximum contribution allowed by law.
Our nation is at a crossroads, and this is once again a “time for choosing.”
Palin has been sending a couple messages recently. First, she has, since stepping down as governor, started to communicate with the people not through the press but around the press. In other words, she’s speaking directly to the people through social media. She has had a couple well-timed and well-placed op-eds that have helped define policy arguments. However, most of the time she’s talked to the people via social media. (It should be noted that she’s been silent on Twiiter for some time — something I hope she’ll change soon.) This has had the benefit of letting the press know that she does not need them. Rather than go the Obama route and deny what is perceived as the one “enemy” to her aims, Sarah denies nearly everyone. And why not? The press trashed her with risible lies. Why give a dying breed ratings when she can reach the people herself?
Second, Sarah Palin has a massive army fundraising for her. It has been interesting to contemplate how she’s going to use that power. The GOP power brokers have certainly seemed disinterested in having her run for president, but they are very interested in her money and endorsements. The only problem is that they have, to use a vulgar turn of phrase, pissed in their Cheerios. They underestimated her star power. They misjudged her almost as badly as the left did; they thought she was just some feather-headed lightweight who would be nice arm candy for John McCain. She’d win the women vote because women are so stupid; ovaries are enough to win them over was the idea. Turns out that Sarah Palin was formidable because of the strength of her ideals, not just because of the strength of her beauty. And don’t forget the strength of her spine. This gross miscalculation has put the Republican Party at odds with their one star candidate.
The Republican establishment made another miscalculation last year. They underestimated the resolve and force of the tea party movement. These folks are ticked. They are angrier at the Republican establishment than they are at President Obama and his Marxist minions. In fact, this trouble was brewing all through the presidential campaign and even before. It all started, really, with the notion of “compassionate conservative” — an idea both insulting and inherently false. Conservatism is compassionate. Conservatism is something to be proud of, not something to hide.
So the Republicans have seemed as stunned with the tea partiers as the tea partiers are stunned at their party. The grassroots folks have had it. They’re tired of being disrespected. They’re tired of being told to pipe down and go along to get along when the candidates the party picks stink and then lose.
That brings us around to the election in New York. Local party people decided that a liberal woman would be just the ticket. The national party decided to second and third that notion. They chose identity over ideology. (This is something the party looks inclined to do in California in two races, by the way.) Ironically, some have viewed Sarah Palin as a horrible candidate because identity politics was involved in her selection. Well, the old establishment might have wanted her for her ovaries, but they got more than they bargained for in Sarah Palin. She actually believes something.
With her decision to endorse Doug Hoffman, the conservative (not Republican) candidate, Sarah Palin sends the Republican Party a very clear message. She will be using her considerable fundraising ability to fund candidates who ideologically match what it used to mean to be a Republican. Since the Republican Party, from its toes to its nose, has difficulty identifying candidates with those credentials, she’ll help them do it.
The Republican Party has a choice. They can continue to antagonize those who vote them into office or they can start paying attention. They mistakenly buy the D.C. bubble philosophy that moderation is the way to find good candidates. What they’re seeing is a base willing to lose if the Republican Party doesn’t change its ways.
A friend on Twitter said to me last night: “Sarah Palin has the base, she has to find a way to reach out to the moderates and independents.” I retorted: “The Republican party might have the moderates and independents (which I question since those people chose Obama over the moderate McCain), they have to find a way to win the base.” The base won’t be discounted any longer and they have found their champion in a very powerful Sarah Palin.