03 September 2011

Sarah Palin: Populist?

The headline on the New York Times website was predictable enough: former Gov. Palin was railing against "career politicians," implicitly including most or all of the active candidates for the Republican presidential nomination. But she had this to say as well: "I want all of our GOP candidates to take the opportunity to kill corporate capitalism that is leading to this cronyism that is killing our economy."

It might be noted that she addressed this comment to reporters, while the Tea Partiers of Indianola, IA heard the stuff about career politicians and how "it’s not enough to just change up the uniform...If we don’t change the team and the game plan we won’t save our country." However, they did hear her break with Republican orthodoxy to say, in the Times's paraphrase: "the cozy relationship between political contributions and government favors needed to be exposed and eliminated." The ideological line, you will recall, is that there's nothing problematic about campaign contributions, that they are, in fact, the moral equivalent of free speech. I had not been aware before now that Palin thought differently, or that she considered "corporate capitalism" tantamount to "cronyism." She might not want corporate capitalists to remember those words should she decide finally to run for President, unless she feels assured of alternate donation streams. According to this story, she has until the end of this month to decide if she wants to appear on all the important ballots. That's another instance of the tyranny of the ballot; in an ideal polity, a person should be able to declare her candidacy the day before the election and be eligible for votes the next day. Likewise, Palin may strike people as uncertain when she says she hasn't made her mind up yet, but let's remember that we've just begun September 2011, and the first choices of delegates are still months away. It makes sense for her to think carefully, not just about whether to run or not, but also about what kind of campaign she might run. Her speech today hints at an unorthodox approach that reminds me of the Tea Parties before the brew was poured, when grass-roots protests against the 2008 bailouts decried the same "corporate capitalism" Palin now denounces. Time will tell if she was simply behind the times today, or actually ahead of the curve.


Anonymous said...

I think it is possible that she may be learning a first hand lesson from working in the corporate world. On the other hand, it may simply be a lame appeal to take votes away from Obama from the disaffected left who feel he and his lack of spine have betrayed their previous vote for him.

I didn't vote for him the first time around, but given the lack of a believable third party candidate this time around, I probably will vote for him. Not because I buy into the hype, but like so many swing voters, I detest the teabaggers so much that I want to see the looks on their miserable, malcontent faces when he wins again and (hopefully) a lot of Repugnican incumbents loser their seats as well.

I applaud the grass roots momentum built up by the teabaggers, but their actions, once in government, have shown their true colors. They DO NOT speak for all of America. Their reliance on that sad old religion smacks of disdain for the first amendment right of ALL Americans, and their defense of corporate mismanagement is deplorable. In wrestling terms, they deserve a smackdown and I truly hope they get it next year.

d.eris said...

Palin has actually been fairly critical of what she calls "crony capitalism" for at least a few years now, which I distinctly remember because I was also struck by her use of the term and criticism of corporatism. She often ties this criticism to her experience of the cozy relation between oil companies and the political class in Alaska.

Here's an NPR story from 2009 that mentions the criticism:

Here's a Washington Times piece from 2010 that mentions the same thing, and, interestingly, blasts Palin for NOT being an "elite":

If I remember correctly, when it was all the rage for Republicans to denounce Obama as a "socialist" in 2009 to 2010, Palin also basically equated socialism with crony capitalism as well.

Samuel Wilson said...

d., the irony is that Alaska's system of oil revenue sharing arguably made Palin the closest thing to a Socialist governor, at least in the Republican sense of the word, in the United States. Criticism of "crony capitalism" from Republicans is not rare -- Jonah Goldberg among other columnists has taken several whacks at it -- but they tend to think the solution is to "starve the beast" of government and thus force businesses to accept the judgements of the market. But were corporations so ideally submissive to market discipline there might not be government as we know it in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Both articles are interesting, if obviously biased. That is not to say they are untruthful, just biased. Populists, I think, can never make good politicians because they need to spend so much time on their image and that leaves them little time for educating themselves on the issues and possible solutions. They tend to simply spout what they know their target audience wants to hear and they know that any negative press they garner will simply be shrugged off as "persecution" by their supporters.