Why Governor Palin Is So Dangerous (To the Left)

Yesterday’s post by Adrienne Ross had a nice recap of Palin’s strengths:

Her message is always one of reform, respect for life, and restoration of our founding principles. She has not veered from championing fiscal responsibility, energy independence, and a strong national defense. She always encourages standing by allies, not bowing to enemies, and unapologetically embracing American greatness. She unceasingly begs us to consider future generations, incentivize small business, and support our military. She is not prone to flip-floppery.

An additional thought is triggered by reading a post-election cri de couer delivered by pollster Pat Caddell. The speech has lots of good stuff, but focus on this crucial point:

But one fifth of the people said the most important thing was: Cares about people like me. And Obama won those voters 82 to 17.  . . . .  you have to have some connection with people, and we didn’t.

In any fair contest, if one compared Palin’s dedication to the welfare of the people, of all economic classes except the plutocracy and the crony capitalists, she would beat any other candidate in either party on this value of  “cares about people like me.”

The need for this level of trust is particularly great for a Republican candidate, because some of our policies require a bit of explanation to convince people of their merit for the middle classes. People who pay few taxes, for example, do not immediately see why low and simple levies are good for them. If the message is delivered by Washington fat cats, they will, wisely, be skeptical. If it is delivered by someone who is trusted to have their interests at heart, they will pay attention. The same thing holds for many other core conservative policies; we promise that over time our programs advantage you. The opposition promises free stuff today.

It is difficult to think of anyone else on the conservative side who possesses this same level of connection with the people. This is why the Left will spare no effort to try to tarnish Palin and sever her connection with “people like me.”  Whether or not she runs for anything in 2014 or 2016, her role as an advocate and intermediary will be crucial.

The shrewdest political remark I ever read (and I have forgotten who said it) is that voters do not really choose among specific policy proposals. Instead, they ask:  “Does this candidate share my concerns and hold to the same basic values that I have?”

If the answer is “yes”, then the voter trusts the candidate to develop a superior knowledge of the best course of action and exercise this knowledge in the people’s s interest. (It is sort of analogous to whether one believes an auto mechanic is devoted to fixing your car or to maximizing your bill.)  If the candidate is not seen as sharing the voter’s concerns, then no level of advertising or ten-point plans will work.

[Image: Pat Caddell, from FrontPage Magazine.]

(65 Posts)

Author: "Ending 'Big SIS' (The Special Interest State) and Renewing the American Republic" (2012) [www.SpecialInterestState.org] and "Property Matters--How Property Rights Are Under Assault and Why You Should Care" (1997). Some former jobs: Assistant Director of Consumer Protection in FTC; member of the Program Analysis Staff of the US Bureau of the Budget; Research Director of the Administrative Conference of the United States; Director of IPCentral at the Progress & Freedom Foundation; VP & GC of the National Legal Center for the Public Interest. Graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, former Book Review Editor of the Harvard Law Review.

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