I spent the night of the 2006 mid-term “thumping” at an election night party for Nebraska Senate candidate Pete Rickets. I put in quite a bit of time volunteering for Rickets, even though a lot of us knew he was a longshot candidate to unseat Democrat Ben Nelson. Rickets got trounced by over 30 points, falling victim to the GOP woes that have seemed to follow all the way up to the primaries this year.
Pete had a great story, but he was hurt by the image that the Democrats were successful in painting of the Republicans; that the GOP was too rich and out of touch, corrput, and all would turn out like George W Bush. While Pete would have made a good senator, it was a hard image to shake and it showed.I spoke to a few of the other volunteers after he conceded and it was well known that the House and Senate would now be under Democrat control and we all wondered what went wrong. Was it Iraq? Was it Mark Foley? Was it gas pries?
No, no, and no. The problem was that we didn’t have any Sarah Palin’s running for office.Palin not only is a fresh face, but also made ethics reform and crushing corruption a conerstone of her campaign for governor of Alaska. While Republcans were mired in scandals and trying to get out, only Sarah Palin got it. She knew that in order to get her message heard more effectively, she had to look corruption and scandals in the eye and not only address it, but vow to eliminate it. When she was able to gain the confidence of Alaskans with her promise to reform Alaska politics, she gained credibility and fired up the GOP base. Instead of following her lead, other GOP candidates just repeated old talking points and tried to distance themselves without aggressively fighting corruption like she promised to do.
Now that she’s a vice-presidential running mate, this puts the Republicans on notice; now is the time for the GOP to put fresh faces and ideas out there, along with candidates that have stories that relate to the people. Palin herself is a self-professed hockey mom, mother of five, and isn’t the typical rich politician you see. Her oldest son is also going to be deployed to Iraq next month. She understands a lot of domestic issues, but has an ability to relate to families because she lives their lives right now. Out of the four names on the ticket (herself, McCain, Obama, Biden) she is the most credible one out there. And this is why McCain picked her, and why the Democrats will seek to denounce her as unqualified to lead the country should something happen to John McCain.While I disagree with McCain on certain issues, he made the right choice in Sarah Palin. Here’s to hoping that there are more people out there willing to lead like her.