The Faith and Values of Sarah Palin: What She Believes and What It Means for America (Book Review)

In any other time, The Faith and Values of Sarah Palin might become a movie of the week, but mainly because the central figure is so attractive, so sunny, and so indomitable, not because she’s the freak that the cultural elites make her out to be. She can handle a gun and a board meeting. Her frontier ways and her recognizably authentic Christian values are mainstream and main street values. She has taken on big challenges, and her beliefs and personal strength have helped her succeed in most of them, even against serious opposition. Most Americans at least try to live out values similar to those of Sarah Palin without even really thinking about it.

These days, the only way the Sarah Palin story gets turned into that movie of the week is if she kills someone, starts a war, or turns out to be a fraud. The first would only happen in defense of herself or her family (don’t cross the Mama Grizzly), the second could only happen if her story gains a whole new chapter yet unwritten, and the third won’t happen at all. Sarah Palin, contra Andrew Sullivan’s and many others in the media’s insane ramblings about her, isn’t a fraud. That’s why she’s so scary to a certain subset of the elites: She’s an evangelical who just believes and acts according to those beliefs. That doesn’t make her intellectually incurious or a radical religionist or anything of the sort; in fact, according to Faith, Sarah was always the bookworm of the Heath family.

Her beliefs make her what we once called normal, at least in flyover country. There are moms like her, and moms who strive to be like her without ever thinking of it that way and who might even scoff at the idea, on every street and in every neighborhood in America. They run our offices and schools, they run the local diners and band booster drives, and they get the family from Point A to Point B with military precision. Or they try their best to do all that, while trying to work out what they really believe about everything at the same time. Palin managed to do it, even to the point of running a state while going on oceanic fishing excursions with her husband while her political opponents buried her in expensive, frivolous accusations designed to drive her from office. She sent a son off to war. She’s dealt with a pregnant daughter, a worthless almost son-in-law, and a child with special needs. She’s us, pretty much, except that she also happens to have been nominated for the vice presidency and now commands a national following while also attracting a ferocious national opposition that includes most of the mainstream press.  Her faith and her values have carried her through all the very high highs and the very low lows that life has thrown at her. The rest of us could only hope that we would handle the extremes of being Sarah Palin with half her grace.

The Faith and Values of Sarah Palin: What She Believes and What It Means for America shows that Mrs. Palin is very much what-you-see-is-what-you-get: an authentically and uniquely American woman whose very ordinary beliefs have propelled her to do remarkable things.  And that mainstream faith and those main street values may propel her to do yet even more remarkable things before her story is finished.