Sarah Palin has certainly gone rogue. She has not yet, however, gone conservative.
FrumForum’s Tim Mak says it is “surprising” that Sarah Palin has endorsed California Senate candidate Carly Fiorina. Mak thinks Palin’s endorsement of Fiorina is surprising because, in his view, Palin should have endorsed the supposedly more conservative California Senate candidate, Chuck Devore. After all, Mak assumes, Palin is a conservative who aspires to lead the conservative Tea Party movement.
But Mak’s assumption is incorrect, or at least not demonstrably true. In fact, there is real reason to doubt that Palin is an authentic or principled conservative.
Palin has, for instance, endorsed the politically unprincipled Senator John McCain over conservative challenger J.D. Hayworth in the hotly contested Arizona Senate race. She’s been indifferent about the Left’s attempt to force open homosexuality on the U.S. military — arguing not that this is, in principle, wrong, but that now is not the time for such a radical change.
Moreover, as NewReal Blog’s Alex Knepper has observed, as governor of Alaska, Palin supported the economically destructive “windfall profits tax” on oil companies. She argued, during the vice presidential debate, that “predator lenders” were solely responsible for the 2008 financial crisis. And the problem with American education, Palin asserted, is that it is inadequately resourced.
“Our schools have got to be really ramped up in terms of the funding that they are deserving,” she insisted. “Teachers need to be paid more.” This despite the fact that some of the most lavishly funded schools in America — in inner-city Washington, D.C., for instance — rank near the bottom in scholastic achievement.
Palin’s positions on these and other issues make her a legitimate populist; however, they are most certainly not conservative. Conservatives, after all, do not believe in cutting the defense budget, curtailing political speech, raising taxes, and granting amnesty to illegal aliens. Yet, these are all positions recently championed by Palin’s preferred Arizona Senate candidate, John McCain.
Nor do conservatives believe in gouging private-sector companies with high and punitive tax rates on “windfall profits.” We do not believe that bankers are villainous “predators,” simply because they offer up innovative loan options to consumers. And we recognize that what plagues American education is not a lack of money, but rather a lack of choice, competition and standards.
Conservatives understand all this because conservatism is, at heart, a thinking man’s creed. It requires thought and reflection about the wisdom of the ages and the empirical evidence of our time.
Indeed, Ronald Reagan was a successful conservative politician and president precisely because he was a thinker and a reader who drank deeply from the wellspring of conservative thought. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said yet of Sarah Palin.
Why, then, is Tim Mak surprised to discover that Palin hasn’t endorsed the supposedly more conservative California Senate candidate Chuck Devore?
John R. Guardiano is a writer and analyst in Arlington, Virginia. You can follow him on Twitter: @Guardian0