Sarah Palin and Wasilla: Real People, Real Consequences

Let’s leave aside, for a time, the ridiculousness of Democrats’ efforts to pretend that Sarah Palin is not the Governor of Alaska, managing an 11 billion dollar budget and 50,000 people. Democrats want to pretend that Governor Palin has never held an office higher than Mayor of Wasilla, and they look foolish doing so.

But Wasilla does matter. It is a key part of Governor Palin’s background. This is not only because of Palin’s acheivements as Mayor, including tax and budget cuts. It is important because it highlights the difference between Palin and Obama, and at some level, the fundamental difference between those who believe in limited government (Gov. Palin, most Republicans) and those who don’t (Senator Obama, most Democrats). Hugh Hewitt hits on the difference here. Reviewing the business of the Wasilla City Council – “annexations. leases, the use of forfeiture funds, historical preservation commissions, ec etc etc. Nothing glamorous. Certainly nothing worthy of an address to the world in Berlin. Just the ordinary but improtant work of local government,” Hewitt notes that these represent, “real decisions with real impact on individuals and communities.”

And that’s the nut of it. It’s something I became acutely aware of as Commissioner and later Chairman of the Federal Election Commission from 2000 to 2005. It’s fine to say how great “campaign finance reform” is – but it looks a little different when you realize that your vote means that a real person, with a real name, which is known to you – will be fined by his government for accidently violating the law in his volunteer political activity.

When you are one of 100 Senators, what you do may be important, but you rarely have to see or think about the specific people you impact. Executives (or perhaps members of very small governing bodies, such as the FEC) see the impact of their work – good and bad – much more directly. Who really understands government – and our citizens – better? Barack Obama, through his “community organizing?” Joe Biden, spending the last 36 years as a Senator? Or Sarah Palin, making decisions with real world consequences for specific people. In the largely thankless, unglorious task of local government, the people impacted by government are real. The Wasilla City Council members see the effect of what they do on their fellow citizens, and they directly see and feel the effect of federal and state mandates on their town and their government. Barack Obama doesn’t know this feeling. Barack Obama has never cast a vote in his life knowing that the result of his vote was that the government would deprive a person of his life’s dream by denying him a building permit or zoning variance. For Obama and for Biden, government’s impact on people has always been an abstract effect, in which the actor can always make himself feel good, and doesn’t need to think about the losers, or the people who just want to get on with their lives.

Governor Palin is the only one of the top 4 candidates to have run anything bigger than a Senate Office or a campaign staff, or to have managed anything in the private sector, and that alone may make her the most qualified of the four, Biden and McCain included. As for her time as Mayor of Wasilla? Let the Democrats laugh. That’s why I’m for Sarah Palin.