Sarah Palin is not ready to leave the national stage.
Not by a long shot.
Our history is comprised of everyday common citizens seizing their historic moment and defining America’s hope and promise. From the founding fathers to Abraham Lincoln to the Great Communicator himself, Ronald Reagan, great Americans have risen up and boldly carried the banner of freedom and liberty for the country that they love.
Sarah Palin demonstrated at the Republican Governor’s Association this week that she is another great citizen leader ready to seize her moment. It is a moment filled with promise for both the nation and the Republican party.
Quite simply, there is an ease and confidence about Sarah Palin that brings back the memory of the late Great Communicator as his party sought to recover from the painful defeat of 1976.
Both leaders were faced with a defining moment in the history of the Republican party, and both suggested the same course of action. Both found themselves at odds with voices in their own party that sought to bring the party to the middle politically after a national defeat at the polls.
In his 1977 speech to CPAC, Governor Reagan argued that “Our party must be based on the kind of leadership that grows and takes its strength from the people.”
Thirty-one years later, Palin called for a “government working for the people,” instead of “American people having to work for their government.”
Reagan spoke of a “New Republican Party” that seemed suited for working class Sarah Palin of Wasilla, Alaska. The “New Republican Party” Reagan envisioned was not “limited to the country club-big business image,” but one that made room “for the man and the woman in the factories, for the farmer, for the cop on the beat and the millions of Americans who may never have thought of joining our party before, but whose interests coincide with those represented by principled Republicanism.”
Reagan’s speech to CPAC foreshadowed the massive war that would be fought within the the GOP, and indeed the nation, in 2008. Washington establishment types within the conservative movement saw Palin and Mike Huckabee as somehow inferior hicks that needed to be shown the door rather than given a place of leadership. Yet, the self-described “hockey mom” from Wasilla connected to those people that Reagan sought to include into the GOP because she was one of them. She didn’t attend an Ivy League school or pursue a life of elitism in the over-crowded ivory tower of the pious intellectual class, but actually showed up and led by example. Palin represents something that the former actor also tapped into.
Echoing Reagan’s CPAC speech, Sarah Palin at RGA spoke of “the working people of this country who put their faith in us, the folks who run our factories and grow our food and teach our children and serve us in uniform, those who came out on the campaign trail also to say, you know, they’ve got a lot of hope for — for the ideals that we were representing in our ticket.”
Sarah Palin represents the re-birth of a movement that Reagan set into motion so many years ago.
In 1977, Reagan spoke of the belief that “liberty can be measured by how much freedom Americans have to make their own decisions, even their own mistakes.” In the face of defeat, he argued that the GOP should embrace conservatism. Similarly, Sarah Palin argues in 2008 that “losing an election does not have to mean losing our way,” while promoting the same conservative principles of less government, the sanctity of human life, and free market reforms that Reagan championed thirty years ago.
Like Reagan, Sarah Palin knows that government is not the solution to our problems, but often the problem itself. A problem that is about to grow by monstrous proportions under the nurturing of the newly-minted Obama socialization of America.
Palin urges us to “build our case with actions and not just words. Let us reclaim our good name as the party of spending restraint and limited government and economic opportunity and personal freedom and responsibility and American tradition.”
She continues on the subject of healthcare reform that, “I’m not going to assume that the answer is for the federal government to just take it over and try to run America’s health care system — Heaven forbid.”
Sarah Palin seeks to lead the party in the same direction that the Governor from California did. Ronald Reagan saw the defeat of the party in a center-right nation as a failure to convey the promise and hope of the conservative message not a call for moderation. Palin litters her speech with calls for the Republican governors to lead in the area of conservative reforms. Her voice stands in opposition to others at the conference like Governor Charlie Crist and Governor Tim Pawlenty who discount Reagan’s influence on the party as outdated and seek to moderate the party as they look ahead.
Moderation is not the answer. Ronald Reagan argued in 1977 that the GOP must remain the “party of the individual” in order to succeed, and that they did just 4 years after losing the White House under the moderation of Gerald Ford. Similarly, after a 2008 presidential nominee that in many ways represented the more moderate “bipartisan” wing of the GOP, the GOP will need to reclaim the territory of the political right if their quest for political gold is to be successful.
Sarah Palin is the embodiment of Reagan’s vision. With leaders like Sarah Palin, the GOP may lead this nation back to a new conservative revolution where, as Reagan put it, “we shall indeed be as a city upon a hill with the eyes of all people upon us.”
Is Sarah Palin the modern day Reagan? You betcha!