Sarah, Want To Fix Yourself Up?

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To exercise authority effectively, you must first serve honorably. This is basic to every hierarchy: military, corporate, and professional.

Authority need not involve the exercise of power. It need not involve giving orders. It can mean rule by example. Rule by example survives the grave. This is why it offers greater potential for social transformation. How much institutional power did Jesus have? Or Buddha?

If Sarah Palin wants to lead, she must follow. Follow what? The rules. Which rules? The ones she has formally consented to.


She must first deal institutionally with the public accusations against her characer. She is the target of a hatchet job book and a hatchet job documentary. Both have been dismissed by liberals as third rate.

The book says she had sex with a sports star when she was single. Liberals don’t criticize people for that sort of thing, especially since he is black. It says that she has had martial problems. Liberals don’t criticize politicians for that. It says she snorted cocaine. Same story.

In other words, the book has gotten publicity for her in a way that tends to create liberal sympathy. Their position is “private behavior and public policies are separate issues. Leave private sexual morality out of the discussion of public policies.”

So, are the conservatives upset? Not really. The book is not well documented. The stories of adultery and drugs are rumors. So, she probably will be able to dodge the bullets, which may be blanks.

She still has a problem if she wants to lead. She has been associated with two theologically conservative congregations. Neither of them tolerates sexual impropriety.

So, whether the mainstream media give her a free pass, and the conservative support base does, too, she has to deal publicly with these stories in the context of her present church membership. She does not get a free pass from God.

Modern church discipline is lax. This is one reason why church influence is minimal. The membership system is not sufficiently self-regulating.

Still, she needs to come clean or prove that all of the accusations are wrong. Government must begin with self-government. This is the traditional conservative political view, the libertarian view, and the Christian view. In the context of church membership, to come clean means public confession of sin for publicly exposed sins.

This position goes back to the early Protestant Reformers, who rejected private confessionals. Sanctions had to be public.


If she gets this dealt with, she can then go on to stage two. I call this the “Mayor Palin” program.

She uses her mailing list and her bus tour to focus her followers’ interest on local politics. She creates a DVD/workbook on how to win local political campaigns. She creates a website to promote this. She shifts her focus from national politics to local politics. I have written about this personal strategy before.

If she were to do this, she would pre-empt the field. Nobody really cares about local politics. Nobody cares about what I called the dogcatcher strategy back in 2000.

Yet the importance of local politics will increase over the next two decades. As the welfare states of the industrial West finally borrow their way into bankruptcy, local politics will become far more important comparatively. When Washington’s checks bounce — or don’t buy much — the crucial functions of civil government will be performed mainly by local civil governments. A great decentralization will take place.

For those who think this is impossible, I recommend the final chapter of Jacques Barzun’s Extraordinary book, From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life: 1500 to the Present (Harper/Collins, 2000): “Demotic Life and Times.” It is about 30 pages long. If that seems like too much to read, then read only pages 776-81. There, you will learn two crucial facts: (1) the nation-state is increasingly unable to deal with crime, which is its crucial function, and (2) the social security programs will go bankrupt. (Note: Barzun write this book as the culmination of an extraordinary career in which he wrote dozens of books, beginning in 1927. He was born in 1907. He is still alive.)

September 19, 2011

Gary North [send him mail] is the author of Mises on Money. Visit He is also the author of a free 20-volume series, An Economic Commentary on the Bible.

Copyright © 2011 Gary North

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