Sarah Palin rose to prominence in the national arena last year when John McCain had selected her to run as vice president. Since then, Palin has been a polarizing figure in the political scene making headlines in both newspapers and tabloids (for her and her family's exploits). I personally did not understand the appeal that she had or why McCain had picked such a character to run beside him, and I feel that her selection illustrates the growing rifts of the Republican party that had started to form in the wake of September 11th.
As a Republican, I had voted for George Bush in 2000, being seduced by the message of compassionate conservatism (although I was a fan of McCain at the time). I was also sold on the GOP brand, and being the first presidential election that I had participated in, I had basically voted by my naive idealism, since my fomenting politics were in their infancy stage. I had also found that Al Gore did not market himself effectively, although at the time I believed Gore to be disingenuous. Those same feelings led me to make the same choice in the 2004 elections.
I was again excited to see that McCain was in the elections, although this cycle I was somewhat partial to Rudy Guiliani and Mitt Romney. When McCain won the primary, I believed two things. First, McCain was going to run a campaign contrary of typical conservative philosophies and move the party back towards a center-right position and secondly, he was going to make a wise choice in selecting a vice-presidential candidate.
I was grossly mistaken on both accounts, but I don't necessarily blame McCain for what transpired.
I had heard numerous complaints from numerous pundits, friends, and co-workers that complained about the liberal-biased George Soros run media, which propagated falsehoods and communist indoctrination. I had always thought of myself as a "conservative", but I found these arguments to be ignorant and insulting to me. In the past 8 years, I had felt my voice to be continually marginalized by the jingo bohunk zealots and religious right. The straw that broke the camels back was the selection of Palin.
My initial response was shock and interest. I was almost certain that he would have selected a better known candidate like Romney or Florida's governor Charlie Crist. I would have even considered Mike Huckabee or Bobby Jindall. After some research on the little known Alaskan, I figured to wait until I reached a conclusion.
Regardless of such complaints as to whether the media is part of a left wing conspiracy, Sarah Palin's responses to interview questions with Katie Couric foreshadow the inevitable power struggle to take place in the GOP ranks.
When discussing the campaign and the economy, Couric had asked Palin why we should be looking forward to McCain when poll numbers favor Obama.
"I'm not looking at poll numbers. What I think Americans at the end of the day are going to be able to go back and look at track records and see who's more apt to be talking about solutions and wishing for and hoping for solutions for some opportunity to change, and who's actually done it?"
My simplistic view on this matter is that as someone running for office, polls play an important part in helping shape public policy because it shows what policy the public wants. Although I viewed her response as arrogant, I did not really think much of it at the time.
Another question asked was about a moratorium on foreclosures. Palin responded that she and McCain had discussed that. For a political party that had been making accusations that the Democrats are communists or socialists, I would view a suspension on events caused by the direct effects of a capitalist system to be contradictory to their own platform.
Palin was lambasted for her comments in which she described the proximity of Russia as a contributing factor in her foreign relations experience, and rightly so. When she had made those comments my jaw had dropped to the floor.
Palin had gone on to say the following:
"It's very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia. As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there, they are right next to our state."
For a nation involved in two foreign wars, corroding international support, especially in the wake of Russia's foray into Georgia, I felt that her statement was a veiled renewal of Cold War diplomacy.
Even the debate with Joe Biden yielded an interesting peak into the mind of the right. When discussing the role of the vice president, she asserted that the constitution allowed "a bit more authority given to the vice president if that vice president so chose to exert it in working with the Senate and making sure that we are supportive of the president's policies and making sure too that our president understands what our strengths are." In reality, the Constitution prescribes the functions of presidential succession and to preside over the senate. Although contested amongst scholars, Palin would continue to exert the increased executive influence that Cheney brought to the position.
There is a blatant disregard for reality that surrounds the GOP and it's core. Considering the Alaskan probes of corruption, based on Palin's improper firing of her former brother-in-law, and then her response to the findings, where she stated she had been vindicated.
In the past election, partisanship had reached a new high. It was laughable when WFTV's Barbara West cited Carl Marx and proceeded to ask Biden if he was a Marxist. It was shameful on November 4th when Fox News' Shepard Smith called Ralph Nader irrelevant because of Nader's previous comment stating Obama could be either an "Uncle Sam" or an "Uncle Tom". Even after the election and in the beginning of 2009, it appears that it is all a matter of party lines, but the majority of the attacks seem to come from the conservatives (it surprised me that considering the economic situations, the so-called biased liberal media did not jump on McCain's association with the Keating Five).
It appears that the GOP it throwing a tantrum, imploding from within, as the core of supporters want to direct the party further right believing that that is where the majority of Americans want to take this nation. President Obama has increasingly showed a willingness to play with the conservatives, appointing several Republicans to cabinet posts and working to broker a deal to help repair this nation but there has been the constant bellows from the right: "My way or the highway"... and that highway is bumper to bumper in gas guzzling monoliths. Remember the chants during the campaign where Palin affectionately rallied the crowd to "Drill baby drill!"
Surprisingly, there is still talk of Sarah Palin running for president in 2012. With the party shifting directions, prominent figures have supported the so-called "liberals", such as Colin Powell throwing support behind Obama, and even Arlen Specter, Senator of Pennslyvania, changinig parties becoming a Democrat in April 2009. When confronted with the reality that America wants a centrist form of government, prominent Republicans label the Powells and Specters as sheep in wolves clothing, finally showing their true form.
I fear that the GOP will view any wins that they may make (no matter how big or small) in the mid-term elections as a rebuttal to Obama's presidency and policy, and a mandate for more conservative reigns on government. Although I am not one hundred percent pleased with the actions taken since the election, I am overall pleased with the results and feel that America is heading in a newer, better direction.