Sarah Palin is one of the most interesting individuals in the world today. She is charismatic, engaging, and the American People are fascinated by every move she makes. Her followers respect and admire her and seem to support her no matter what she does.
She has unlimited potential and has a great chance to be our first female president. On the other hand, she might be a great talk show host, our next Oprah. Where she ultimately winds up depends on her character. Does she have what it takes to be a genuine conservative statesman and our first female president, or is she just another politician?
In a classic article entitled, “Character, Liberty, and Economics” Lawrence W. Reed defined the characteristics of a conservative statesman. Let us apply Reed’s criterion to Sarah Palin and determine if she is a genuine conservative statesman.
First, statesman believe in a principled vision, not a political argument they believe the citizens will support. When statesmen are elected, they do not forget the public-spirited voters who put them in office. When Sarah Palin was elected Governor of Alaska she should have had a vision of Alaska as a model state for human freedom, limited government, limited taxes, public security, and private sector-based health care. Her vision for Alaska should have superseded all other issues. Unfortunately, it did not. Instead, Sarah Palin abandoned her supporters, and quit her job as governor arguing that the job was too difficult because she was constantly under attack and was treated unfairly.
Second, conservative statesman do not engage in class warfare or other divisive or partisan strategies that pull people apart. Unfortunately, she was divisive as a candidate for Vice President. Her conservative ideology united the conservative base in the Republican Party, but she could not find common ground with moderates, independents, or conservative Democrats. Finding common ground was essential for building a winning coalition. Palin needs to achieve what President George W. Bush could only talk about, she should become a uniter and not a divider. To achieve this objective, she should read the new book entitled “Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream.” Reiham Salam, a fellow at the New American Foundation is a co-author of this book.
Third, statesmen take responsibility for their actions, learn from their mistakes, overcome great obstacles, and achieve great things. Sarah Palin has great problems in this area, and this was evident when she ran for Vice President. When she had a bad interview with NBC News she blamed the interviewer. A conservative statesman would have taken responsibility for the disappointing performance. When she had problems campaigning with Senator McCain, she blamed McCain’s staff. She never explained what she learned from her problems and how she would improve in the future.
Fourth, conservative statesmen do not try to convince people that they are victims and argue that they can save people from the same problems. Palin, unfortunately, talks like a victim. She argues that she was a victim of the press, the Republican establishment, and the liberals that attacked her as Governor of Alaska.
At this point in her career, Sarah Palin is another politician, not a conservative statesman who is destined to be our first female president. She still has unlimited potential, but she must learn to live by these conservative principles.
Source: Lawrence Reed, Character, Liberty, and Economics, The Goal Is Freedom Magazine, July 2009.