Governor Sarah Palin recently announced that she would not seek another term in office, and subsequently tendered her resignation, effective in approximately two weeks. Since this past Friday, speculation continues about the underlying reasons for her decision. Such speculation has ranged from concern for the well-being of her family, to accumulating legal debt, to stress caused by efforts to disparage and demean her, and her family’s character. All of these possibilities are credible within the context of modern day political rationale. Yet, none of these motives reflect the truth; nor are they relevant to Governor Palin, for one preeminent reason, to wit: Governor Palin is not a politician, but rather a citizen who happens to hold the title and duties concomitant with being her state’s chief executive. Unconventionally, Governor Palin is not self-identified or defined by the office she holds, but defined solely on the basis of her values and the content of her character; which is grounded in her demonstrable conviction of, and commitment to, Christian principles – an increasingly rare attribute, particularly among politicians. Whether anyone believes it or not, Governor Palin is honest and seeks to live in accordance with her convictions – regardless of any political consequence.
Sarah, as she prefers to be called, is a “common” woman. She is not motivated by political ambition, contrary to conventional wisdom. She strives to do that which is morally right in every aspect of life, and being Governor, albeit grand in responsibility and stature, is one aspect of her life, rather than life itself. Sarah has a self-imposed moral obligation to place the interests of her fellow citizens in Alaska, above what so many would consider her self-interests, generally defined by the political class as the need to advance one’s career in politics. The relevant factor overlooked in this perspective is that Sarah, from her standpoint, has no “political career,” but has sought to serve in public office only to promote the public good – seemingly an almost non-existent motive in today’s political system. As she said recently, in reference to her political future, “If I die, I die. So be it.” (Associated Press)
Governor Palin fully explained her rationale for the decision to resign. Anyone listening to her words should have little difficulty understanding her perspective. The people of Alaska are wrongfully suffering operationally and monetarily, as a result of the continual stream of ethics charges levied against their Governor. The Governor stated that 80% of her time, and that of many staff members, is now allocated to research necessary to answer such charges, and further that $2 million dollars of state taxpayer money has been expended thus far to meet the State’s obligation to defend the Governor. From Sarah’s standpoint, this is not only subverting Alaska’s interests, but diverting valuable time and money which would otherwise be used to pay teachers, provide assistance to Alaska residents, and repair infrastructure. Thus far, 15 ethics complaints have been lodged against Governor Palin. She has been completely exonerated. Yet, given the history of these complaints, and the apparent political motives underlying them, there is a reasonable expectation that they will continue as long as the Governor remains in office, an expensive probability contrary to the interests of Alaska citizens. While those of, and in support of the political class, may not find such an explanation plausible from their vantage point, it does not in any way alter its veracity. Yet, if her words are questioned, one may compare them with her actions in concert with the resignation.
Sarah, rather than to remain in office absent sufficient legislative support for any new initiatives, decided it would be best to depart at this time, while by virtue of transferring power to the current Lieutenant Governor who shares her policy positions, she has the ability to influence the public policy she believes is in the best long-term interests of her fellow citizens. The new Governor, who will serve the remaining 16 months of Governor Palin’s term, will gain the benefits of incumbency; and assuming he governs wisely, may well earn the respect, trust, and votes of the electorate as he seeks his own term. This act of Governor Palin affirms that she seeks to guard and promote the interests of Alaska citizens, before any self-serving political interests, or self-indulgent personal interests, at the citizens’ expense. In effect, Governor Palin decided, consistent with her moral convictions, that she would not stay in the Governor’s chair, for one day longer than she reasonably believed would be in the citizens’ best interests. She would not, as many politicians irresponsibly and unjustly do, use the gubernatorial office and title for purposes of self-aggrandizement. Sarah Palin, a woman of moral character, to the best of her ability, could not violate her Christ born convictions, any more than Abraham Lincoln could violate his. She has demonstrated her commitment to morality prior to this occasion by refusing to abort her new Down-stricken son. It is sad and tragic in today’s America, which reeks of perceived and actual political corruption, that the first instinct is to expect dishonesty, self-promotion, scandal, or personal instability, or some combination thereof, as the explanation for decisions of anyone in elected office. In Sarah’s case, none of these apply, and her actions have a just and reasonable basis, which she articulated in plain language.
The popular question now is what does the future hold for Sarah Palin? Anyone other than the Governor can only speculate. Notwithstanding, there is one assurance – Sarah Palin will continue to abide by her moral sense of right and wrong. Many wonder whether she will seek the presidency in 2012. Governor Palin has already answered this question, in stating that if the door is open she would not want to miss it. The operative word is “if!” She will only seek higher office if she has a conviction that it is the right course of action, not for herself, but for her fellow citizens, and that will be based on her priority framework, namely and in this order, God, family, and country. She abides by one characterization of leadership; not “self-serving,” but rather “servant” leadership – intuitively an attribute and perspective most Americans would prefer all politicians personified. Could she win? A few years ago not many believed that a young former community organizer, and two-term state senator, who spent most of his short two years in the United States Senate running a campaign, would become President of the United States.