Guest Submission by Mark America
I write my articles from a somewhat different perspective than most people who support Sarah Palin. As a political junkie, I was vaguely aware of the Governor when John McCain introduced her to the world as his Vice Presidential choice in 2008. She was busy taking the world by storm, and she energized the conservative wing of the party in a much more thorough way on behalf of the McCain campaign than the aged Senator from Arizona had any right to expect. I was conscious of all of this, but in my own life, a different sort of storm was raging, and it very nearly destroyed our family. For the first time in decades, the political arena wasn’t so important to me. In July 2008, as a tender young adult, eighteen years of age, my daughter was in a serious auto accident that came within inches of stealing her life. She was flown from the accident scene to the trauma center that serves our region. Our lives all changed on that day, and my focus went through a dramatic shift. I couldn’t afford to pay much attention to other things. There was only my daughter. By the time the situation would finally take a turn for the better, much in the world around us had changed, seemingly forever.
She was maintained in a coma for four days, because at each attempt to bring her to full consciousness, she would begin experiencing seizures, eyes rolling back in her head, gasping and flailing. My wife and I began to wonder if this would be our daughter’s permanent future. Thankfully, on the third attempt to bring her out of the chemically-maintained coma, a passing pediatric neurologist saw the seizures and stepped in to order a simple antihistamine injection. It turned out that one of the medications she was administered as a seizure preventative, Haldol, was actually causing or exacerbating the seizures. Apparently, these symptoms may occur in some substantial number of children who are administered the drug, but they had been treating our daughter according to adult protocols. Removing her from Haldol relieved the seizures, and after a number of days, she slowly returned to something like normal. Ordinarily, one would think that this would be the happy ending, and her mother and I thought so at the time. Finally at home, we began to notice some behavioral problems. Frequent rages, volatile behavior, and bombastic swings in mood. All of these things were terrifying, but as the weeks went by, suddenly, our daughter seemed to be losing all ability to control her impulses.
In the period leading up to the accident, she had been on track in pursuit of a second application to the US Air Force Academy, having just missed the cut after being nominated by our Congressman, the Honorable John Carter, the previous Christmas, but that young woman was missing. In her place was a highly irrational, utterly volatile person it seemed neither of her parents could reach. During the time when she had been in a coma, my wife and I had begun to prepare ourselves that her condition might never improve. Now, just weeks after the prospect of a full physical recovery seemed promising, the mental and emotional state of our daughter made it clear our celebrations had been premature.
The road from there was long, difficult and emotionally exhausting. In the months to come, she would total a second car, run away, move home, run away again, elope with her boyfriend, struggle with self-destructive impulses, return home again, move out again, blow the engine on yet another car, earn many traffic citations, and basically follow a path that drove us to distraction, caused domestic turmoil, and nearly caused the split-up of a twenty year marriage. In and amongst all of the torture and uproar, an odd thing happened, and it may have saved all our lives, and preserved our family.
There were just three important lessons I had tried to instill in my daughter, and among them was the idea that there would be no limits to what she could achieve if only she would apply her whole-hearted best effort without compromising her principles. For a young woman coming of age in our world, who had been taught that no limits existed to what she could accomplish, least of all because she’s a girl, a rising political star in the form of a beautiful woman with a lovely young family made that possibility real to countless young women and girls. This created a momentary opening between me and my daughter, during one of her runaway periods. She and I actually were able to communicate peaceably just long enough to partake of our shared interest in politics, and go see Sarah Palin at the Fort Hood, Texas signing event for Going Rogue. Afterward, the two of us went to dinner and had a chance to talk. It gave me an opportunity to remind her why working on her continuing problems was so important to her future.
Ultimately, this brief lull in our struggle was interrupted by another impasse born of another emotional explosion. My wife and I had all but given up hope of seeing our daughter restored to the path on which she had set out not so long before. We always taught her to be courageous and independent as she was growing, because we knew the world was changing and the challenges ahead would require a young woman of purpose and strength. We were so beset with grief, each of us, at the path our daughter was following, which seemed to meander as her emotional capacity waxed and waned.
As my daughter grew up, it’s no secret that she was a “Rush Baby.” As I would pick her up from school, we’d listen to the delayed re-broadcast of Rush that came from WBAP, a distant but still powerful signal that allowed us to listen to Limbaugh later in the day. She would giggle at the funny parodies he would play, as we drove from the school to home. Still, she would hear the times when Rush would become much more serious on a subject of national importance, and me with him, as I responded in my own rolling commentary as Rush spoke. For whatever else it may have been worth, it did manage to gain and hold her interest, even into her teen years. It always seemed to be the way back to one another when times were tough, or parental directives didn’t match teen-aged whimsy.
It was in this way, at least in part, that I helped form my daughter’s beliefs, or perhaps, helped strengthen what I had taught her. After all, here was this guy with a booming voice on the radio, validating what her parents had taught her, rather than sneering and mocking as is the norm in the popular culture. We taught her to have no fear of evil but one: Left unopposed, evil will flourish. In many ways, and only half by conscious intention, we were raising a conservative warrior who unflinchingly believes in what’s right rather than what’s easy.
Through the challenges of teen-aged travails, we struggled at times to keep her on that path. The culture is so polluted that a parent who wishes to raise their children with conservative principles finds the deck stacked against them. Even small-town schools have an overabundance of liberal faculty, in part because almost all of the colleges in which they are educated turn out mostly leftist drone who have hijacked education to their statist indoctrination. The students, of course, don’t all have conservative parents, or even parents who are the slightest bit interested in the principles underlying what their children are taught. They’re busy, struggling to earn a living, or in some cases, sadly slothful. Either way, their children wind up as blank pages to be filled with whatever the school and the popular culture desire.
It’s at its worst for young women. Most of the role models the popular culture offers them are liberal, loud, and lewd. In her school, my daughter participated in various things, including Persuasive Extemporaneous Speaking as part of the UIL. In this, she found her niche. She performed admirably, and was dedicated to purpose. One of the relatively few conservatives, she always found herself having to take the adverse point of view on the subject at hand. This was a handicap, because some number of the judges were simply liberal bigots unable to separate their opinions from the duty to judge performances objectively. You could always decipher it, too, because the scoring would always show it. The blatantly liberal evaluators would give an outrageously low score, thus sabotaging her. Even at that, her arguments and presentations overpowered this bias in many cases, but more importantly, sharpened her focus and her reasoning.
Much of this came crashing down as she came within inches of decapitation on that July day in 2008. Had the car hit the trailer under which her car slid only slightly differently, this story wouldn’t be written at all. Her story would have ended, and with it, I think mine too.
Thankfully, the story didn’t end there, and neither did it end with a young woman troubled and impeded by head injuries. Through all the terrible things that the accident caused, there came to be a single thread by which we were bound, and that has ultimately served to bring us back together. You see, despite the troubles, long years of teaching, discussing, arguing, and reinforcing did succeed in bringing our daughter slowly back to us. She didn’t lose any IQ points, but what she had lost in the accident was the ability to focus their considerable horsepower, and to apply them to her life. One of the things that has helped to re-sharpen her focus, to rebuild and make better all that was harmed, is her desire to restore the country.
She’s still married to the young soldier with whom she eloped. He’s now stationed at Fort Hood which puts them close to home again. She’s employed, and enrolling in college this fall to resume her studies. She wants a degree in communications. She’s politically combative as ever, and she won’t yield to bullies. She sees Sarah Palin as a role model for what is good about the country, and how one should conduct themselves in the face of adversity. Sarah Palin’s example provided one of the last threads of attachment, back to reason, back to sanity, and back to adoring parents who love her. Despite the differences in circumstance and station, she naturally sees in Sarah Palin the right things. She scoffs at the mocking buffoons in the pop culture and those loosely in her own circles, and simply does what is right. She’s a fierce defender of conservatism, and conservatives, particularly the former Alaska Governor. Her loyalty isn’t to party, but instead to reason, common sense, and the principles on which the country has been founded. Most of all, she’s rededicating herself to truth.
For these reasons, Sarah Palin’s ascendancy has become a sort of father-daughter project. Our support for Sarah isn’t merely an exercise in political activism, but a campaign to champion what is good and decent in our country, to restore what America is supposed to be, and to make it possible for future generations to enjoy the freedoms I’ve known, but her generation may not be able to pass on to their kids. It’s also about strengthening a family, hit with adversity, but struggling to overcome. I was interested to see a piece of video recently in which Governor Palin listed the movies she enjoys, and why. Among them, she listed Rudy, because it’s the story of an underdog overcoming long odds. It’s one of our favorites too, and the crescendo when he sacks the opposing quarterback is one of the few scenes in cinema that makes me cry, not with sadness, but with the joy of victory for life and the love of living it.
This week my daughter kicking off a new Facebook page called TexasCollegians4Palin. Through Sarah Palin’s determined, persistent example, our daughter is back, and there’s not a dry eye in the house.
Thank you Sarah Palin!
Cross-posted at Mark America.