Sarah Palin’s decision to let populism trump principle is a fatal flaw

posted at 1:21 pm on January 20, 2016 by Taylor Millard

Sarah Palin is no fool when it comes to playing to her audience and getting conservatives and libertarians riled up. There’s no doubt Palin is someone who loves her country, and believes in freedom and liberty, free markets, and smaller government. These are very admirable traits, which is why she was involved in the Tea Party when it first started in 2009. But Palin has a very fatal flaw when it comes to the allure of populism. Her endorsement of Donald Trump shows her willingness to sacrifice principles for “the will of the people.” Palin’s affair with populism was in full force when she told Iowa how Trump was for them.

“He is beholden to no one, but we the people, how refreshing. He is perfectly positioned to let YOU make American great again…Trump’s candidacy it has exposed…the complicity on both sides of the aisle which has enabled [ Obama’s transformation of America ]…He’s been able to tear the veil off this idea of the system, the way that the system really works…The permanent political class has been doing the bidding of their campaign donor class…that’s why they’ve been blowing budget. It’s for crony capitalists to be able to suck off of them.”

The similarities between Palin’s comments and parts of Theodore Roosevelt’s 1912 Bull Moose speech are striking because they both rail against the “ruling political class.”

“When…the bosses in control of the Republican party, the Barneses and Penroses, last June stole the nomination and wrecked the Republican party for good and all – I want to point out to you that nominally they stole that nomination from me, but it was really from you. They did not like me, and the longer they live the less cause they will have to like me. But while they don’t like me, they dread you. You are the people that they dread. They dread the people themselves, and those bosses and the big special interests behind them made up their mind that they would rather see the Republican party wrecked than see it come under the control of the people themselves.”

Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are also ones who use Populist Rhetoric 101 when they talk about the Washington Machine or #StandwithRand because it can be effective marketing when the messenger knows how to get the crowd engaged. There’s also a bit of truth to what populists and quasi-populists espouse, because there IS a permanent political class which is only interested in handing out favors to their buddies. But one of the dangers of populism is that it can install leaders who aren’t interested in freedom and liberty at all. This was something Thomas Jefferson recalled in his autobiography when writing how the populism of the French Revolution gave way to Napoleon Bonaparte:

“Of those who judged the king, many thought him wilfully criminal…that it were better that one should die than all. I should not have voted with this portion of the legislature…In this way no void would have been created, courting the usurpation of a military adventurer, nor occasion given for those enormities which demoralized the nations of the world, and destroyed, and is yet to destroy millions and millions of it’s inhabitants.”

This isn’t saying Trump is going to turn into Napoleon and start taking over the globe. What it is saying is Palin’s love of populism has blinded her to some of the dangers of candidates when their beliefs don’t match her own. Palin’s endorsement of Marion Maréchal-Le Pen is another example of the ex-governor simply allowing populism to take over her brain without giving more than a cursory glance at the one she was supporting. Maréchal-Le Pen’s party supports nationalizing French industry, higher taxes, and a “strong state,” all of which Palin is against. Her support of Trump comes the same day he suggested raising the ethanol mandate (which is cronyism) despite the fact Palin has made it a habit to point out why cronyism needs to be expunged. She damned cronyism in 2011 calling it,”not the capitalism of free men and free markets, of innovation and hard work and ethics, of sacrifice and of risk. No, this is the capitalism of connections and government bailouts and handouts…” Trump’s endorsement of ethanol mandates is the very definition of what Palin complained about, so the only explanation is Palin is so “in the tank” on populism it doesn’t matter what a candidate’s beliefs really are. Ben Shapiro at DailyWire.com noted the issues with going all populist for the sake of populism.

 I’m a conservative before a disestablishmentarian. So call me a devotee of antidisestablishmentarianism – I’m not for dumping the establishment over just for its own sake. It’s only worthwhile replacing our dictators if we can replace them with something better. And, thankfully, we do have that choice, with Cruz – or even with Marco Rubio, to an extent (remember, the establishment supported Crist over Rubio in his Senate Race).

Shapiro is absolutely right, and kudos to him for being willing to write it. The populist twinge to the original Tea Party was fine because it was promoting freedom and liberty, smaller government, and sound fiscal policy. But the populism running rampant today, which Sarah Palin is supporting, isn’t promoting what the original Tea Party stood for. It’s here where Palin is abandoning the values she claims to stand for, all in the name of populism and strong man syndrome. She should know better, and it’s disappointing she’s gone down this road. It isn’t surprising, but it’s still disappointing.


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Comment pages: 1 2 3

But one of the dangers of populism is that it can install leaders who aren’t interested in freedom and liberty at all.

Installing leaders who aren’t libertarians isn’t a defect. That’s a feature. I want someone interested in morality, justice, and virtue.

Stoic Patriot on January 20, 2016 at 7:53 PM

All you DIABLOs should never hector others about “principles”, for you have none.

Schadenfreude on January 20, 2016 at 8:02 PM

They’re just fair-weather Palinistas with latent PDS. lol :D

Anti-ControI on January 20, 2016 at 2:06 PM

She said it was incoming, in her first sentence. Let it all be.

It’s Christmas in America, every day.

Schadenfreude on January 20, 2016 at 8:03 PM

Would this be fatal flaw #17, Taylor?

I can’t get over the cogent rebuttal of your premise in that excellent opening paragraph:

There’s no doubt Palin is someone who loves her country, and believes in freedom and liberty, free markets, and smaller government. These are very admirable traits, which is why she was involved in the Tea Party when it first started in 2009.

Seems like her version of populism could be a winner, right?

virgo on January 20, 2016 at 8:58 PM

Would this be fatal flaw #17, Taylor?

I can’t get over the cogent rebuttal of your premise in that excellent opening paragraph:

There’s no doubt Palin is someone who loves her country, and believes in freedom and liberty, free markets, and smaller government. These are very admirable traits, which is why she was involved in the Tea Party when it first started in 2009.

Seems like her version of populism could be a winner, right?

virgo on January 20, 2016 at 8:58 PM

The rest of the article explains why, Virgo, and it draws great comparisons to The French Revolution. Populism for the sake of populism is horrible. Mobs are a bad way to rule. That is why we have a Constitution with rights that even the mob (at least in theory) cannot take away.

Palin is no longer a conservative. Goodbye Sarah.

Theophile on January 20, 2016 at 9:58 PM

The problem with all these principles that I BELIEVE IN don’t sell. Wear them on your sleeve and you’ll never win.

Reagan talked about smaller govt, lower taxes, etc., but he wasn’t so stupid as to claim he would end ethanol subsidies, banish the IRS, kill the EPA, etc.

Better to couch your principles in populist terms.

MaggiePoo on January 20, 2016 at 11:18 PM

The rest of the article explains why, Virgo, and it draws great comparisons to The French Revolution. Populism for the sake of populism is horrible. Mobs are a bad way to rule. That is why we have a Constitution with rights that even the mob (at least in theory) cannot take away.

Palin is no longer a conservative. Goodbye Sarah.

Theophile on January 20, 2016 at 9:58 PM

Read it. Not convinced. Sarah has no history that goes in the direction of totalitarian bloodlust. So, colorful though it is to revisit the French Revolution I think we are safe from the Terror of Wasilla.

virgo on January 21, 2016 at 3:17 AM

I say this with heavy heart because until now I loved Sarah. There is some kind of pay off here for her. Donald has bought her endorsement as surely as he buys buildings. She is going against everything she said she stood for. The Tea Party is and was patriots working for the good of their country. The Party has evaporated.

Herb on January 21, 2016 at 9:35 AM

Thing is that Palin was never a conservative. She was always a populist. Cheers –

agimarc on January 21, 2016 at 10:13 AM

While there seems to be no confusion as what makes a Democrat, I doubt you could get any consensus from the Hot Air Krew (moderators included) as to what conservatism actually is… and therefore no consensus of who represents what…

Skip2014 on January 21, 2016 at 10:53 AM

I’ve heard some of this same tripe on Levin’s show last night as he tried to make the connection that Trump is Herbert Hoover.

Yes, of course, everyone who supports Trump and not Cruz is a sellout engaging in sophism. Got it.

It’s really become a joke how people are actually performing an intellectual circus act to go after Trump. But, you know. they’re not endorsing any candidate. Sure, you’re not.

Trump isn’t currently my candidate, but this is exactly the behavior which is destroying the party. It isn’t just the “Establishment”. It’s the “conservative” Illuminati that want to define who should be acceptable to voters.

If you want to have a conversation about what conservatism really is, let’s do so outside electoral politics. That way we can remove the obvious conflation that comes with voting for a president and voting for a leader of the conservative movement. People are sick of it.

In case you did not notice, those two are not the same thing.

Marcus Traianus on January 21, 2016 at 11:06 AM

Is this your equivalence, or do you have a vocabulary disorder?

The only disorder I see is your inability to recognize hyperbole. That indicates simplistic thinking…which perfectly explains your continued support of GOPee and their endless stream of liars and losers.

Maybe he was just being a gentlemen for an undeserving Crowley… In fact, being courteous to Ms. Crowley and not picking a fight with a woman in public may not be the best thing to do in politics, but it isn’t in the same class a urinating on stage.

Old Country Boy on January 20, 2016 at 7:01 PM

Thanks for explaining that, Captain Obvious. You’ve just cleared up one of the great mysteries of 2012! Enjoy voting for Trump in November…once your GOPee masters tell you to do so because they have no other choice :)

rvastar on January 21, 2016 at 12:03 PM

If you want to have a conversation about what conservatism really is, let’s do so outside electoral politics. That way we can remove the obvious conflation that comes with voting for a president and voting for a leader of the conservative movement. People are sick of it.

In case you did not notice, those two are not the same thing.

Marcus Traianus on January 21, 2016 at 11:06 AM

I’ll tell you what “conservatism” is…or what it’s degenerated into. It’s a dinner bell that the GOPee rings to create the desired Pavlovian reponse with the yokels. Nothing more.

“Here, boy! Here, boy! Sit! Now…check the box next to the ‘R’. Goooooooood boy!”

ACTUAL conservativism doesn’t stand a chance in hell of vigorously reasserting itself into the American cultural dynamic as long as it’s “champion” is the feckless, gutless GOPee as it is currently manifested. It needs to be stripped bare and exposed for what it is – an elitist cabal of corporatists who’s only real allegiance to anything remotely “conservative” is low tax rates and cheap labor for their masters in the Chamber of Commerce and Wall Street.

I like Cruz. And if he’s the nominee, I’ll happily vote for him. He can beat Sanders, but I think he’d struggle against Hillary. The question is is how much would a Cruz nomination change GOPee. If he wins, greatly. But if he loses, none…as they’ll simply use it as evidence that “conservatives can’t win the general election!”

A Trump nomination, on the other hand, is an A-bomb on the GOPee…regardless of the outcome in the general. They will be flayed open for everyone to see…and they will be found wanting. The party will never be able to go back to what it was, and there is no scenario where what it changes into is worse than what it is currently.

If your dog has an upset stomach, he’s gonna sh*t all over your house. The typical GOPee “conservative” here things that they can clean up the mess without the unpleasantness of putting their hands in the sh*t. Alot of us Trump supporters understand that that isn’t possible. We’re going to have to suffer through some unpleasantness – one way or the other – in order to clean up our house.

Burn it down, Trump!

rvastar on January 21, 2016 at 12:55 PM

Shapiro is absolutely right… – Taylor Millard

You’re an idiot Millard. Cruz and Rubio are the establishment. They have to take large donations, aka bribes, to get elected so they are already corrupted like the rest of the “establishment”. Only Trump is immune to this disease.

Replacing one boss with an exact copy doesn’t solve the problem, but it does prove that you’re insane if you think it will.

earlgrey on January 21, 2016 at 3:00 PM

Trump believes in the right of the government to take the homes of Americans in an effort to increase taxes. I bet he wishes Kelo had been decided before he tried to take that woman’s home so that he could build his casino.

Trump comes across as another Obama to me. Say what the people want to hear, chant “I’m going to make America great again” which is akin to “hope n change”. He’s been a friend to the Clintons and has just said that Ted Cruz is more corrupt than Hillary. He’s good at working with others to “get things done” which sounds a lot like John McCain and his reaching across the aisle rhetoric.

Looks like Sarah Palin is ok with a liberal politician after all.
If Trump is her idea of the best this country has to offer, maybe it’s just as well that she didn’t run a few years back. I can’t imagine what her cabinet would have looked like. I’ve been a big fan of Sarah’s but her endorsement of Trump is disappointing to me. Oh well, the youngsters of this country are in love with Sanders and socialism and they will eventually turn the country socialist. May as well get started now and elect Trump, the man who favored single payer health care.

Ibanez Lotus on January 21, 2016 at 8:28 PM

You’re joking right? At a time when Paul Ryan allows funding of 300 million Syrian refugees, funding Obamacare, rolling over belly up on Obama’s unconstitutional power grabs, you are slamming the ‘values’ of a woman endorsing the only candidate who proposed any solutions? The only candidate to bring up the issue of Amnesty? Are you kidding me? You SorosConservatives need to go away

Brock Robamney on January 24, 2016 at 5:39 AM

As bice chairman of the NRSC, Ted Cruz was active in the screwing over of Chris McDaniel. If that is not a sellout of conservative values, than this whole notion is bullcrap

Brock Robamney on January 24, 2016 at 5:42 AM

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