An Unlikely Palinista

In January of 2008, many months before Sarah Palin would explode onto the national scene, I was pondering the chances of my dream choice for the next president, Hilary Clinton. Clinton had been in my heart since 2000 and I boldly told anyone who would listen that she would triumphantly return to the White House in eight years. Unlike many of my black friends, I was not excited by the prospect of Barack Obama and did not feel the need to “support one of our own.”’

As a self-described liberal and feminist, Clinton had my full support throughout the primary season. I accepted the mistakes of her staff and her own missteps along the way as par for the course. The bitter primary fight was unexpected given Obama’s inexperience. I still hoped the Hillary would be victorious. Even after some obvious union shenanigans in caucus states, I never expected Obama to win the nomination. When he did, I put aside my disappointment and got behind him. I tried to feel pride in his accomplishments and overlook his obvious ACORN ties.

As a former ACORN/Project Vote employee, I recalled taking a call from the campaign in 2007 and speaking with one of the staffers. I was excited at the time, but only because I had just attended a staff retreat where Zach Polett, head of ACORN Political Operations, had bragged about supervising Obama and stated that “ACORN produces leaders.” After working with the Obama donor list in late 2007, I knew that Hilary Clinton faced a formidable opponent with a well-run political money machine.

Despite these experiences and misgivings, I went for Obama and when John McCain announced Sarah Palin as his running mate, I was angry. With all the liberal self-righteousness that I could muster, I attacked her experience, her knowledge of foreign affairs and all things Palin. It was a purely irrational response born out of the bitterness of not being able to have Hilary Clinton as my candidate. I ignored Palin’s innate charm, grace and beauty. I found myself secretly laughing with her and admiring her spunk but would never admit it.

In 2009 as I began to transition from liberal to conservative, I wondered whether I would get behind Palin and if I did, would that make me a hypocrite. A series of unlikely events answered that question for me. As the fight against ACORN became ugly and people began to spread lies and take sides, I finally understood Palin. She is a lightening rod for anyone who does not stand for truth and wants to maintain a status quo or move toward socialism.

(AP Photo/Tom Uhlman)(AP Photo/Tom Uhlman)

When I found out the title of her book was Going Rogue, that stuck in my head, because that was the gist of the situation. Palin defies expectations, speaks from the heart and shoots from the hip. As former McCain staffers began to attack her, I identified with her. I realized that by bucking the system and going against Obama, I had upset liberals and some Republicans who wanted to use exposing ACORN for their own benefit. I upset other whistleblowers who wanted to protect Obama and selectively expose ACORN. I ruffled feathers at Fox with my determination to link this scandal back to the White House.

I began to admire Palin’s strength in the face of attacks and her relentless quest to just be Sarah and expose hypocrisy and truth. I became an unlikely “Palinista” and found myself devouring all articles written about her and following her on Facebook.

I was struck by how some treated her and intrigued by those who admired her. Sarah Palin really is a lesson in an American life: she never claimed to be perfect but through sheer grit, determination and an undeniable likability, she showed this self-described feminist what being a woman in this new America is all about.