Going Rogue, Part III: The Palin Political Philosophy

When Palin’s book first came out, I remember Rush Limbaugh commenting that it was a great book on public policy. Others who commented on his comment took him to task for seeing something in the book that wasn’t there. At least that was what they said. Now that I’ve read it for myself, I can say that Rush was correct.

No one disputes that the book is primarily autobiographical. The intent clearly is to reintroduce Palin to the public from her perspective rather than through the lens of her critics. Yet a significant part of who she is pertains to what she believes. Throughout her account, she offers insight into her governing philosophy, whether as a town council member, mayor, or governor. In each case, she is consistent in what she believes and how she attempts to govern.

Then, at the end of the book, after all the trials of the campaign and the false ethics complaints that led her to resign her office, she spends time laying out more clearly her foundational principles.

She calls herself “an independent person who had the good fortune to come of age in the era of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.” She realizes that politcal labels get attached to individuals, so she decides to call herself a Commonsense Conservative.

Upon what is her Commonsense Conservatism based? Palin says, “I believe in a few timeless and unchanging truths, and chief among those is that man is fallen. This world is not perfect, and politicians will never make it so. . . . I am a conservative because I believe in the rights and the responsibilities and the inherent dignity of the individual.” This means

We don’t trust utopian promises from politicians. The role of government is not to perfect us but to protect us—to protect our inalienable rights. The role of government in a civil society is to protect the individual and to establish a social contract so that we can live together in peace.

On economics, she sees cycles of booms and busts that are natural, given man’s fallen condition. Then when government steps in to “help,” things only get worse.

It’s easy to promise free medical care and a chicken in every pot. It’s more difficult to explain how we’re going to pay for it all and to explain why social programs that were supposed to help the poor have ended up hurting them, becoming unsustainable financial liabilities for all of us. Ronald Reagan was the last president to really explain this to us.

Palin refers to Reagan continually. She’s obviously influenced by him and wants to see the nation return to his way of thinking. This, of course, wins points with me.

President Reagan used to speak of reducing the federal government. Now some Republicans barely bat an eyelash when helping create whole new federal bureaucracies. Today if you ask, “Why exactly do we need that federal program? Can’t we do without it?” people will look at you as if you’re from outer space—or perhaps from Alaska.

As she analyzes the bailouts and stimulus bills that have heaped unprecedented debt on the country, she responds,

Our massive interventions in the economy today haven’t “fixed” anything; instead, we’re rewarding a few large firms for being irresponsible. We’ve told them they’re “too big to fail”; we’ve told them that the bigger they are and the more trouble they get themselves into, the more likely the government will be to bail them out. . . .

The lesson in all of this is that we can’t abandon free-market principles in order to save the free market. It doesn’t work that way. The cure only makes the disease worse.

Palin stresses energy independence, and from her background and experience with Alaskan resources, believes that America can achieve this. She also stands strong on doing what is necessary to win the War on Terror. For her, this is not simply a criminal activity to be dealt with by the courts.

With her stalwart prolife views and Christian moral precepts, her principled position on the free market, her pro-military, pro-strong-America stance, and her ability to communicate these concepts, generating enthusiasm among the grassroots conservative movement, Sarah Palin is probably the first politician since Ronald Reagan who has the potential to unite all factions of conservatism.

Will she do so? If she does what she says everyone must do—follow the leading of the Lord in all areas of life—she may be the person who can achieve this.

I encourage everyone who has taken the time to read these three posts to do the same with Palin’s book. Examine it for yourself and determine in your own mind if my analysis is correct.