The political world was rocked last Friday by Sarah Palin’s announcement that not only would she not run again for governor of Alaska, but that she would be stepping down from the office in just a few weeks, turning the government over to the lieutenant governor.
The political pundits have run wild. They are positively beside themselves trying to figure it out. Some have described her as nutty, others as bizarre in her decisionmaking, and some have even delved into the morass of speculation over some wrongdoing on her part. Some leftist blogs are sure she is under federal investigation for something, and the other shoe is going to fall at any moment—or at least that is their hope.
Most pundits are just puzzled by this unorthodox step. Many of them have even taken her to task for the style of the speech itself. It was too rambling, they say; not well-scripted; not very smooth for someone who wants to be president. I listened to the speech. She was speaking from notes, not a script, and she was speaking from the heart. I liked it. Why? It was not the typical politician speech written by someone else for political effect. I liked it for the same reason others hated it—it was not Washington-speak.
Now, was her decision unorthodox? Certainly. Does it betray nuttiness or is it bizarre? Hardly.
Let’s back up for a moment. I’ve watched the political scene for nearly 40 years now. In all that time, despite the media attacks upon Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and countless other conservatives or Republicans, I’ve never witnessed anything as vicious as what has happened to Palin over the past 10 months. Yes, all politicians have to be aware that they will be scrutinized, but the arrows aimed at her have been more deadly than any I’ve ever seen.
Reagan was called lazy, a grade-B actor, etc. He was accused of throwing kids and the elderly out on the streets to die. Yet most of that could be seen for what it was—pure political posturing. Bush, the Left says, should be hauled up before a world court to be tried as a war criminal. Most people see the absurdity in that. Neither Reagan nor Bush, though, have had to put with the kinds of vicious smears Palin has endured.
Right from the start, she was referred to as trailer park trash, intimations were made that her son was really her grandson, and that she was covering for her daughter, she was ridiculed for her accent and for her less-than-Ivy-League education, and programs such as Saturday Night Live created a stereotype of her that turned her into a fuzzy-headed ditz.
Then, even after the election was over and done, the attacks continued. Political opponents filed 15 frivolous ethics charges (all rejected ultimately) that have cost her a few hundred thousand dollars to handle. As if that weren’t enough, David Letterman had the gall and lack of character to joke about her daughter being raped at a Yankees game.
Why did Palin make her decision? I’m not privy to her thoughts, but I’m giving her far more credit than the pundits. These pundits live in a bubble; for them, everything is political. That’s what drives them nuts about this. How could she do something so politically silly? How can she ever hope to run for president now? This just shows how weak she is, right?
It actually might show the opposite. It might show that in her heart there is more to life than politics. Why must someone be president or governor or senator to make a difference? I comment a lot on politics and government, and I believe Christians need to be involved. But is serving in government the be-all and end-all of life? Not at all. It’s merely one way to serve God. There are others.
I don’t know if Palin is walking away from politics or not. I will accept [as if my acceptance matters one whit] whatever direction she goes because I believe she is trying to get her priorities right. She consulted her family on this decision, and they were unanimous that she should step down. If she never runs for political office again, but raises her family to love God and is able to speak truth to the world through whatever platform she is given, that may very well be God’s will for her.
Most pundits will never grasp that. For them, the world revolves around politics. Sarah Palin is a Christian who wants to follow God’s leading. I will be interested in what the leading may be, but I’m going to allow her the space to be a follower of God and see what happens.
May the Lord give her wisdom and bless her new path, whatever that may be.