When Sarah Palin first came on the scene as the surprise vice presidential pick of the McCain campaign, she was a breath of fresh air. As she gave her address at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, many Tea Party activists who were themselves political neophytes from humble backgrounds heard themselves in her folksy Alaskan twang. It was this sort of kinship which prompted so many to defend Palin against attacks from the political establishment. She was us. We were her. An attack on her intelligence was an attack on ours. We knew implicitly that the same people who looked down their noses at her would just as soon scoff at us. So we circled the wagons.
Oh how times have changed. Over the years since, Palin has devolved into a self-parody that fulfills the caricature her critics once crafted. In a new interview with the Associated Press, she demonstrates as much in remarks regarding the Republican presidential nomination process.
Voters will “rise up” in opposition if Republican power brokers try to take the presidential nomination away from Donald Trump or Ted Cruz at the GOP convention this summer, Sarah Palin said Thursday in a wide-ranging interview.
The 2008 vice presidential nominee told The Associated Press that GOP voters have the right to decide the party’s nominee and will rebel if House Speaker Paul Ryan or some other “white knight” is chosen at a contested convention. Ryan said this week he will not seek or accept the nomination.
Palin said voters know better than to be fooled by party leaders.
“How dare they?” Palin asked, denouncing “arrogant political operatives who underestimate the wisdom of the people.”
If party leaders try to intervene at the July convention, “we will rise up and say our vote does count, our activism does count,” she said.
A woman with Palin’s background, having served as the governor of a state and a vice presidential candidate, and having thus experienced firsthand the reality of how political conventions work, has no excuse for misrepresenting the process this way. She’s either ignorant or lying. And it’s hard to accept she could be ignorant of a process that she has worked so long within.
The so-called “power brokers” at the Republican National Convention are the delegates elected from the several states. They are people you may know, people who caucused alongside you earlier this year, people who make a local name for themselves as supporters of the party.
My state has yet to select most of its national delegates. Of the candidates I know who are running, each of them are hard-working grassroots organizers who have taken time and money from their day-to-day lives to volunteer on behalf of the party and its candidates. These are the people Palin calls “arrogant political operatives,” some of the very same individuals who once supported her candidacy for vice president. How dare they pick the nominee? Is Palin kidding? How dare she suggest they can’t.
To borrow a phrase from Senator Marco Rubio, let us “dispense with the notion” that delegates selecting a “white horse” nominee somehow disenfranchise voters. Those who voted in primaries and preference polls had their voices heard. Delegates will be bound on the first ballot at the national convention based on those results. That is the totality of what those voters are owed. It was up to the candidates to earn a bound delegate total that would secure the nomination. They didn’t, and that means all bets are off. That’s the process. It’s open, transparent, and a product of the very same grassroots activism folks like Palin claim to champion.
You know who else cast votes? Those who elected delegates to their local party conventions. Those local delegates in turn cast their votes for delegates to higher level conventions, all the way up to the national convention. Do those votes count for nothing? Is that whole process just window dressing? If so, why have a national convention at all? Why not just tally up a plurality of the popular vote and be done with it?
Frankly, it proves difficult to respond to remarks such as Palin’s without devolving into disrespectful epithets. The level of dishonesty and or incompetence required to forward claims like Palin’s invites such scorn. Suffice it to say that Palin is wrong. The nomination has never been decided directly by primary voters, and there’s a strong argument that it never should be.