As 2010 winds down, I stop to reflect on what I’ve learned most from Governor Palin. I end the year with a very simple but profound lesson from her, as she has shown herself to be everything I already knew she was–authentic and fearless.
Governor Palin took on health care, the economy, the Ground Zero mosque, Iran, Arizona’s attempt to secure its own borders, Wikileaks, energy independence, and the Gulf oil spill. She became a political analyst for Fox News where she weighed in on pressing issues of the day, sometimes from the studios of New York, sometimes from her home in Wasilla. Governor Palin traveled the U.S., speaking up for Constitutional freedoms, and she selflessly went to Haiti to serve those still dealing with the effects of a devastating earthquake. She supported Bristol on “Dancing with the Stars,” took us through Alaska via “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” and wrote another successful book, reflecting on “family, faith, and flag.” She ushered in a new era of strong, active women and named them Mama Grizzlies, a distinction they still carry with pride. Perhaps most notable, she helped change the face of Congress by successfully endorsing a plethora of candidates–male and female, Black, Hispanic, Indian, and White, who will put an end to business as usual in Washington and do the people’s business instead.
Impressive as this partial list of Governor Palin’s accomplishments is, what stands out most to me is not what she did, but how she did it. Whereas Dana Perino may choose to babble about Governor Palin’s authenticity, the truth speaks louder. No one would put herself on the line as she did without firmly believing in each stand she took. Governor Palin went through hell because she called attention to “death panels,” and only now are people recognizing that she had the foresight to see what most others chose to deny. She was labeled a racist because she stood with Arizona in their effort to secure their own borders and became the most prominent face of the Tea Party movement. She was accused of being intolerant because she questioned the appropriateness of building a mosque in the vicinity of Ground Zero. Her judgment was placed on the chopping block because she dared endorse some people with whom the Establishment took issue. Nonetheless, she did not hide behind what was safe, but she went running toward what was right. While supposed heir-to-the-Republican-nomination-throne, Mitt Romney, often hid until the eleventh hour–and sometimes much later–to endorse a candidate, the Governor spoke out, came out, campaigned, raised money, and stood by her decisions.
Whether certain individuals like the Governor’s decisions or not, her fearlessness in making them and standing by them is unquestionable. She stands head and shoulders above the rest because she stands on principle. This is the kind of leader Americans are seeking. This is the kind of leader who inspires the support that she receives from ordinary barbarians. This is also the kind of leader who scares both the Left and the Right to death.
In 2010, Governor Palin surely demonstrated what it means to be busy, but she did so much more than that. She focused on issues that matter most to Americans, and she didn’t let the pressure closing in on all sides divert her from doing what she knew to be best for her nation, or her family, or even her state. May we be just as fearless in our stand for truth, freedom, and justice. Governor Palin is a living example of what authenticity is really about, what it costs, and the rewards it brings. No matter who likes it or who doesn’t, with her, what you see is what you get. And we see a Mama Grizzly intent on standing on the right side of all the right issues and will not back down.
As we head into 2011, I want to carry this lesson of fearlessness and authenticity with me; it reminds me of the advice Shakespeare shared in Hamlet when he wrote:
This above all: to thine ownself be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell: my blessing season this in thee!
Happy New Year!