The frenzied reaction of the middle class all over the country toward Sarah Palin has no real precedent that I can remember. Indeed, the reaction especially among women is completely understandable. She provides a much welcome cultural break from the chip-on-the-shoulder, grudge-against-the-world model of public women that have been held up to us for years, embodied in the belligerent and insufferable person of Hillary Clinton.
Sarah, on the other hand, is both beautiful and professionally accomplished, a wife and mother and a natural politician, both religious and secular, both feminine and fears no tasks such as hunting that are usually associated with men. She offers a different model of a woman who has excelled not through intimidation and aggressive demands for reparation, but through her own efforts, charms, and intelligence.
What’s more, her political outlook has much to recommend it, from what we can gather so far. There is a libertarian impulse here. She has rejected the perks of public life in favor of common sense. She is friendly to business interests but unfriendly to special privileges. She has praised Ron Paul and rejected the party mentality of GOP regulars.
It strikes many people as a brilliant choice on McCain’s part, and I would agree. Social conservatives have forgiven all of McCain’s deviations. Many people who just last week didn’t give a fig about whether he wins or loses have come around completely. She will, of course, be a huge focus of the campaign.
The claim against her that she lacks “experience” is one of the most bogus things out there. For starters, the history of VPs shows a long history of people with very little of what is called “experience” today. And contrary to what media pundits say, what is far more important than experience are the political values you hold.
The demand for experience seems to imply that somehow we are seeking social and global managers for public office, and that is manifestly what we do not want. In a truly liberal society, the job of a White House executive could be held by anyone or no one.
Now, the sad part begins. The first job of anyone who works for the government — and that is the job of the vice president — is to echo the line of the government. People find that to be reasonable. It really comes down to a matter of job loyalty. If you are working for Burger King, you have an obligation not to criticize their hamburgers publicly.
But in government, this job requirement takes on a different cast. When a decent person accepts a job such as vice president, our first instinct is to celebrate that good people are in a position of power and influence. This is what the McCain campaign is counting on. But this is an illusion. The influence runs completely the other way. Good people become part of the party machine and surrender all their principles in order to survive.
We are speaking here of the leviathan state that lives on a lie. To be part of that, you too must become part of the lie. It is perhaps possible to be the governor of a small state such as Alaska and not be part of the machine. It is not possible to be vice president of the United States and not enter into the deeply immoral arena that values the burying of all principle, and saying and doing whatever is necessary to bolster power.
Part of the purpose of campaigns is to socialize the candidates in this mold. Sarah will be slapped around if and when she openly disagrees with McCain’s politics. When they win the election, she will immediately be required to take on the role of an apologist for all that the administration does.
In some ways, this is the continuing of a terrible trend of the Bush years. Many good young people from conservative backgrounds, with excellent educations and decent political values, went to work for Bush under the impression that they could make a difference. There was change as a result, but it was not government that changed, but the young people who went to work for it.
There are even cases of former libertarians who have held high government positions and sacrificed all their values in order to hold their jobs. They claim that they haven’t abandoned libertarianism but rather seek to apply it in the “real world.” But the real world of government is the opposite of libertarianism. It is stealing, lying, killing, butchering, badgering, looting, coercing, and sucking the life out of society itself. That is the essence of modern statecraft.
You either have to come to terms with that or leave. If you stay, you become part of the very problem that you fought to oppose. We saw this not only during the egregious Bush administration but also in the 1980s with Reagan. Many people become educated with sound political values and find themselves attracted to Washington politics. They quickly feel embarrassed about their naïveté and seek to fix themselves up, adopting the approved cynicism that eats away at their soul. They become changed over time, morphing into the very opposite of what they started out, and of what they started out believing.
There are names I could mention here in our time, former libertarians now holding high political appointments in the bowels of the federal bureaucracy. They know who they are. They can pretend superiority that they are “getting their hands dirty” while the rest of us are merely typing away at our keyboards. But in fact, they have become responsible for great evil, the leading one of which is to contribute to the great lie that government is doing good for us.
This, sadly, is the future of Sarah Palin, who may have been doing some good in Alaska. It is even more of a tragedy when people leave the private sector where they are serving the public in productive ways, only to become part of the machinery of stealing, lying, and killing.
There is something about Sarah I really like, especially that she seems to have had some sympathy for an Alaskan secession movement, which, contrary to media hysteria, is a perfectly reasonable and liberal position to take. But you can be sure that if she plans to be a successful vice president under a McCain administration, all of this will be swept under the carpet and her primary accomplishment in life will have been to dupe many people into supporting an administration that promises to be the worst thing that has happened to this country since Bush was sworn in.