They’ve Got the Wrong Girl

Jedediah Bila

By Jedediah Bila, Author and Political Commentator

Despite the fact that it has been over two weeks since Sarah Palin’s revelation that she will campaign for John McCain this election year, I continue to receive anxious emails from readers who feel she has betrayed them.  Even her recent endorsement of Rand Paul hasn’t quelled the tide of concerns over her allegiance to McCain.  I have to admit that when the announcement hit, I wasn’t inclined to address it in a column.  Of course, I noticed that many quickly labeled her a RINO.  Others called her the enemy.  Some said she’s slapping tea party patriots in the face.  But with a wide array of pressing issues facing our country, Palin’s endorsement of McCain truthfully didn’t rank high on my priority list.  However, my readers have repeatedly asked me to share my opinion.  So here it goes.

In late 2008, Sarah Palin accepted John McCain’s invitation to stand beside him on the Republican presidential ticket.  Despite some differences when it came to policy and issues, she believed he would be a good leader for our country.  She spent a great deal of time on the campaign trail defending the notion that McCain was the best choice for America, that his personal and political characteristics merited our votes.  Why would anyone expect a different attitude from her now?  What would you think if Palin—despite the fact that McCain is virtually the same political figure today that he was a year and a half ago—suddenly decided not to support him?  Would you conclude she had lied to you in 2008?  Would you assume she’s playing strategic games?  I certainly might.  The first question on my mind would be:  So he was good enough in your mind for the role of President, but doesn’t cut it for Arizona Senator?

In her recent op-ed in USA Today, Palin disclosed the reasons why she chose to speak at the Tea Party Convention in Nashville.  Two sentences in particular resonated with me:

“It’s important to keep faith with people who put a little bit of their faith in you.”

“I made a commitment to them to be there, and I am going to honor it.”

Those quotes epitomize the woman you voted for.  What inspired you to pull the lever for her in November of 2008 is precisely what has led her to stand by McCain in the 2010 Arizona campaign.  McCain put his faith in her in 2008.  She’s keeping faith with him now.

This column is not an endorsement of John McCain. McCain wasn’t my 2008 Republican presidential nominee and he’s often not my ideological ally.  To be frank, although I possess great reverence for his service to our country and the strength of character he must possess as a result of what he endured, McCain earned my vote in 2008 because of his running mate. I hence advise you to do what you should before any election:  Research the candidates and their records, forget about who’s endorsing them, and follow your gut in embracing the leadership you believe is best for our country.

Despite Sarah Palin’s fame and propped up celebrity status, you can still envision her doing homework with her kids and sitting around the TV on family movie night.  That’s why you like her.  Because you think she’d choose her family over her career.  Because you feel she’d rather say what she means and face the backlash than lie and savor the praise.  Because you sense that at the end of the day, she’d prefer to be comfortable with her choices than have us approve of them.  And because you believe that she wouldn’t abandon her word to win a popularity contest or safeguard her political future.  Well, guess what?  She stood beside John McCain in 2008 and she’s standing beside him now.

Most refreshing to me in the political arena aren’t those who articulate their policies the best, pledge allegiance to the establishment to get ahead, or play it safe to win pats on the back from both sides of the aisle.  It’s those who follow their principles…not the higher moral order of their party or political ideology, but the convictions they carry on the inside, the ones that guide their simple, everyday choices.

In 2008, Sarah Palin called Americans “to take the maverick of the Senate and put him in the White House.”  If people were expecting her to have a convenient change of heart, I think they’ve got the wrong girl.

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