The Lightning Rod
“May not the knowledge of this power of points be of use to mankind, in preserving houses, churches, ships, etc., from the stroke of lightning, by directing us to fix, on the highest parts of those edifices, upright rods of iron made sharp as a needle…Would not these pointed rods probably draw the electrical fire silently out of a cloud before it came nigh enough to strike, and thereby secure us from that most sudden and terrible mischief!” Ben Franklin
I just finished watching the documentary about Sarah Palin, ‘The Undefeated.’ Her story, as articulated by Stephen Bannon, was very inspiring. Palin isn’t portrayed as a ‘savior’ or a ‘saint’ or even as an icon. What I got from the story was this woman believes in the ideals of the American political system and tries her very best to do her humble part to conserve those ideals. I learned two important things about her passion and her courage. She is not afraid to step aside in order to win. She also seems truly concerned with saving this nation from a future of serfdom.
Palin’s classic Facebook statements make international news when she presses the post button. The image of her bus is emblazoned across press stories. She has lived inside the minds of the establishment GOP and the liberal press for years now. Palin has already accomplished so much more through her brave words and appearances than Obama has been able to do over the past year. I don’t think she’s going to run for president because she can do so much more from afar.
The beginning montage of ‘The Undefeated’ is a cacophony of Hollyweird hate that made the hair stand up on my neck. Palin hatred among the elites is almost a badge of honor. Her story and her manner, completely genuine and heartfelt, have been made the butt of so many jokes she is no longer a real, recognizable person to so many people. She has become the face of the Tea Party and I believe she has been doing everything she knows how to preserve the movement among the populace.
She has fundamentally helped transform the Republican Party and changed the national debate.
We have come to believe that the president of the United States is the most powerful person in the world. This is an illusion perpetuated by political classes who believe the presidency is a potent symbol. It is a potent symbol, but it pales in comparison to some of the great Americans who have changed and preserved this country without ever stepping foot in the White House.
American history is peppered with stories of people who bravely stepped into the socio-political fray and yet never even ran for public office. Thomas Paine girded a people to demand liberty from British dictates and to try governing themselves. Harriet Beecher Stowe was the little woman who launched the Civil War to free the slaves. Booker T. Washington caused an entire educational system to be created from nothing to educate and empower black Americans. Thomas Nast’s cartoons lampooned and eventual lead to the demise, for a time, of crony politics. Norm Borlaug’s Green Revolution completely changed the social and economic universe in such a way that feeding ourselves has radically altered the human experience. These are all people who changed the very fabric of America and yet never held a political office, much less the presidency.
As we listen to the pundits and columnists and so-called journalists opine and whine about Palin’s bus and appearances in early partisan voting places, I’m struck by how Palin is just contributing energy to the conservative movement. Her words and her presence bring an atmosphere of excited hope to our philosophical world view. This energy is constantly assailed by our friends on the Left.
Palin takes the criticism with the kind of aplomb that you can’t find in most politicians. Reputation and status are everything to someone running for office. The Jon Huntsmans and Mitt Romneys of the world cannot abide full, personal assaults like Palin has endured and continue smiling. She seems to be drawing more fire the more she places herself at the nexus of political argument. The elites are confused and divided. That is a good thing.
The more Palin draws the fire from the Leftwing media and the establishment, the more the other candidates can grow. Her overwhelming presence causes pseudo-journalists to write and comment about her rather than foibles of other candidates and Tea Party groups. We grow in strength and purpose and the whole time Palin, like Franklin’s lightning rod, draws the powerful, killing charge of the wanna-be powers that be. Palin is doing a great service to the Right simply by being a selfless foil.
Don’t get me wrong. I adore Palin and would support her should she run. She would be a fantastic president that could truly fix a corrupt and broken political system. She has the fortitude and resolve to change our overspending ways. She could do truly great things reforming the American political spoils system. I believe she could make government the limited public actor it was intended to be freeing us from unnecessary meddling and direction.
But, I believe Palin actually cares more about restoring the American Dream than becoming the first female president. I believe Palin thinks the American Exceptionalism model deserves to be preserved. If she thinks she can save this nation by being a lightning rod enabling others to do the important work, she will. I think Palin believes public service isn’t just a government check and permanent benefits. I think she believes it means actual sacrifice.
I think Palin is willing to be that sacrificial lamb for the common good of the nation. Her steadfast faithfulness is laudatory, regardless of her ambitions. In fact, I believe her ambitions are firmly secondary in her heart to love of country.
Crossposted at Looktruenorth.com