Yesterday, Erick started the political year off with a bang by endorsing Pence for President, in an attempt to push Pence into the presidential race, rather than the Indiana governor’s race, in order to stop Palin from winning the nomination. I overreacted a bit and I must apologize for calling Erick’s character into question, as my state of mind caused me to misinterpret a comment he meant as a compliment to Palin. However, the reason I was so worked up is not because he endorsed Pence, but his reasons for doing so. He was quite clear in saying that his heart was with Palin, yet because of the media and the establishment GOP he felt that she would have a tougher race, and therefore we should promote Pence in her stead. This, to me, is not only grossly unfair to Palin but also a miscalculation as to the electability of Pence.
One of the things that we as grassroots conservatives and/or Tea Party activists must do is to hold each other accountable, and tie each other to the mast of conservative principle when the siren song of the left grows too loud in our ears. Right now I believe we are in the middle of an unofficial grassroots primary, the winner of which gets to take on Romney (or whoever wins the establishment primary), in the real primary. Let me be clear, either Pence or Palin is preferable to any of the other candidates, but I believe Pence has some drawbacks that make Palin the better candidate. We do need to hash this out now in order to avoid a split vote of the sort which led to McCain being our 2010 nominee. Hence the need for this diary, and a closer look at the relative merits of Palin vs. Pence as presidential contenders in 2012.
Both Palin and Pence pass this test. Both have solid grassroots conservative credentials and are able to effectively articulate the conservative message, a few minor gripes notwithstanding. Pence is rumoured to have supported some form of amnesty, but the details on that are not clear, and I have not taken the time to research that issue yet, in part because I don’t think there’s probably much there. Palin has backed some more establishment types like McCain and Fiorina, but there are good explanations for each. There was really no way she could avoid endorsing McCain after campaigning for him in 2010, and Fiorina was a mama grizzly (in California, to boot!), part of Palin’s effort to bring more women into the GOP, so I’m not overly concerned about that one either. She’s faced some criticism for spending in Alaska, but that state is quite unique. Their constitution explicitly states that the natural resources of Alaska are owned by the people of Alaska. What she did was to take on the big oil crony capitalists and lobbyists who had so tied up the state government that the average citizens were not being well served. She returned to the people the resources that were constitutionally theirs, while simultaneously managing to promote energy development! That takes talent, if you ask me.
Pence has been a radio talk show host and congressman. In my opinion, that is a great start, but not enough to win the presidency. In order to be successful in that endeavor, it is imperative that you have been able to build a statewide coalition before. Historically, almost all of our presidents have been governors or senators, who had experience running and governing on at least a statewide, if not national stage. Those that weren’t were often generals who likewise had abundant executive experience on the national stage. Pence has the right values, but the most logical next step for him would be to run for governor, a seat which he is virtually sure to win. This would set him up perfectly for a future run at the presidency or some other national position after having gained some valuable statewide executive experience. Palin, on the other hand, has advanced slowly and steadily up the ladder of public service as a councilwoman, mayor, energy commission member, governor, and VP candidate. She has faced the tough battles time and again, and proven her mettle at each level. Although it’s become a cliche, it is true that Sarah Palin doesn’t retreat, she reloads. She’s media saavy and able to combat their attacks, which leads me to my last point.
This is where I think Erick has miscalculated on Pence’s relative merits compared to Palin’s. Let’s imagine, for a moment, that Pence has won the nomination. Although he’s spoken the national media before, he is not really prepared for their vicious onslaught, having only previously served as a congressman. Honest answers that make perfect sense to us are twisted beyond recognition by the media and woven into a national narrative that makes him into a monster who eats little kids’ health insurance for breakfast. He is made to look incompetent, a failure as a legislator, and a thousand other things we haven’t even thought of yet. Though he repeatedly tries to explain himself and clear his name, he is vilified and savaged beyond belief by a left fearful of losing both houses of congress and the presidency to the GOP. The left points out that he has even less experience than Obama had when he was elected, since Obama had been a senator first. People are leery of changing horses midstream with another president who needs on-the-job training and independents begrudgingly hand Obama four more years. Now suppose Palin, with a strong record of successful public service as a governor, wins the nomination instead. The left explodes in a fit of apoplectic PDS. They hurl every attack they can think of at her, but it doesn’t work. Why? Because they’ve already tried everything they can think of. More ethics complaints, attacks, etc. have lost their power to harm her, because she’s already proven she doesn’t need the media to get her points across. In fact, by October/November 2012, their strategy is backfiring. They have cried wolf one too many times and the public doesn’t buy their alarmism anymore. It gets so bad that the public begins to feel not only sympathy for Palin, but wholehearted support for her criticisms of the media and the left. Some of the media, in fact, begin to realize how ridiculous they look and how fast they are becoming irrelevant, and give Palin a fair shake due to her rising popularity. Her hard working, can-do, independent American spirit contrasts sharply with Obama’s big government statism, and Palin wipes the floor with Obama in the debates a. la. Reagan vs. Carter. Her previous campaign experience pays off well, but now unfettered by the McCain campaign, she is able to convey her ideas and common sense solutions much more clearly to the American public. Reagan Democrats and blue collar union workers identify strongly with her and Todd against the backdrop of Obama’s condescending elitism, and she ends up winning handily, establishment GOP begrudgingly in tow.
Finally, there’s one last reason to support Palin over Pence. She’s walked the walk, and talked the talk. She’s put herself out there at a time when most people were hanging back and testing the wind. No matter how banged up she got, she stayed in the fight and came out on top, with regards to the media. She’s tough and she sure ain’t a quitter, despite whatever people say about her governorship. She’s politically astute, but she doesn’t compromise on her values and she’s not afraid of what anyone says about her. Personally, I would much rather have an outspoken defender of the American dream with a solid record of success at the state level as our candidate rather than a guy who so far hasn’t done a whole lot other than make a few good speeches to some friendly audiences. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure he’s voted the right way in the House most of the time. But it takes more than that to successfully run our country in an executive position. Sarah Palin has what it takes to go the distance.