After several e-mailed brainstorming sessions with this friend, I summarized my opinion as being along the following lines. Although I think she may be doing herself political harm by allowing herself to become pop-culturized, I still think she's good for America. I'll get into my reasons later, but I want to take a moment to point out that in her book, Going Rogue, she makes no bones about the fact that she's not "out to get" a national political position. She is waiting to see what God has for her to accomplish in this life.
That's very like how I live my life. People often ask if I planned to have ten kids. I didn't plan anything. There was a time, if I think way back, at which I held onto some non-child-bearing hopes and dreams. But I also realize that God's ways are not my ways. (Is. 55:8) He knows what is best for me and His kingdom. He has plans to prosper and not to harm me. (Jer. 29:11). That's just to big for me to attempt to overwrite.
Back to Palin, I appreciate the fact that a woman of national political and also pop-cultural reknown holds those same guiding principles.
But more than that, I think Palin symbolizes what might be called the clash of cultures in our country. I posted this excerpt on Facebook a few moments ago. It is from an article on Patheos by Timothy Dalrymple, titled "Palin Enragement Syndrome."
For the populist Right, Sarah Palin is a personification of all that is still good about America: rugged individualism and bootstrapping success, toughness and pluck, firm devotion to Christian family values, a commitment to the cause of life, and the kind of folk wisdom that cannot be gained through graduate degrees but is packaged in common sense and reinforced through the experience of a hardscrabble life.Mr. Dalrymple seems to have encapsulated why people like Palin. And for me, it is an apt description of why, whether or not she pursues national office, I think she's good for America. In the world of national media, pop, political, and social, its refreshing to see someone I can point to who holds values similar to my own.
My family is a bit different than some (go ahead and laugh), in that we don't have a TV. So sports figures, Hollywood figures, etc, are mostly just names my kids hear on the radio or among friends. But as they get older and have more access to the internet and magazines and friends televisions, they become more familiar with pop culture. Oh yeah, lots of Hanna Montana a few years ago. Now it's Lady Gaga. Mmm, now there's a roll model I'm overjoyed over. But if one of my kids happens see Palin's show at a friend's house, or a snippet of it goes around the e-mail or facebook circuit, I probably won't feel like I need to preview it. I probably won't need to cringe. And it might even elicit conversation. Of course the other pop figures also elicit conversation, but they tend to be somewhat one-sided, "Did you hear those lyrics?" or "What is she wearing now?"
I realize that, as Dalrymple also points out in his article, there are those who don't appreciate the values portrayed by Palin. He theorizes that the entire reason many people loath her is cultural rather than political. Most of those who despise her know little more about her political views and record than the exaggerations and outright lies that were spread during the campaign. (Case in point, the "I can see Russia from my house," line. That was Tina Fey on SNL. Most people think Palin said it.)
According to Dalrymple, from the point of view of those who oppose Palin culturally,
Palin lacks everything they pride themselves on possessing, possesses everything they pride themselves on scorning, and stands for everything they pride themselves on opposing. She lacks cosmopolitan tastes and elite university credentials, a well-worn passport and fluency in foreign tongues, a blueblood vocabulary and literary speech patterns, not to mention a fashionable address and a vacation home on Martha’s Vineyard. She possesses a beauty-queen title and the wrong kind of good looks, a large brood of lily-white children with outdoorsy names like Track and Piper, a commoner’s cadence and a steady supply of you-betcha folksy phrases, and a background in conservative white evangelical and even Pentecostal churches. And she stands for the defense of the unborn, for heterosexual marriage, for premarital abstinence, for the extraction of our natural resources, for small government and second amendment rights, for conservative Judeo-Christian traditions and for American exceptionalism.How can a person argue with that? Those types of cultural values cannot be argued. We all hold our personal values so deeply that they are like breathing.
And that is exactly why Sarah Palin's presence in the American scene is important and good. She gets people thinking and talking and trying to define and articulate those things they love or hate about her. Once we can speak coherently about those things we oppose, and also those things we hold dear, we stand a much better chance at civil discourse. And civil discourse leads to peace, stability and progress.
I don't know if I'd support Palin for national office. It will depend upon the other candidates who come forward. But whether or not she ever rises to the presidency or another national office, I still say she is good for America.