Sarah Palin Scores the First Truth in the 2012 Election Campaign

September 11, 2011 at 10:32 pm

Yes, I know. I’m as surprised as you are to see the words “Sarah Palin” and “truth” in the same sentence.

Speaking at a Tea Party rally in Indianola, IN, Ms. Palin made the following key points:

1. The United States is now governed by a “permanent political class,” drawn from both parties, that is increasingly cut off from the concerns of regular people.

2. Republicans and Democrats have allied with big business to mutual advantage.

3. The real political divide in the United States may no longer be between friends and foes of Big Government, but between friends and foes of vast, remote, unaccountable institutions (both public and private).

I believe Ms. Palin has fairly accurately described much of the situation in Washington (though point three delves a bit too far into conspiracy theory).  Or at least this is what many people believe given how much legislation is shaped by lobbyists regardless of who’s in charge. [1] [2]

This is especially interesting given that no other Republican candidate has characterized the situation this way. Not to mention very few Democratic politicians.

“[The political class] derives power and their wealth from their access to our money, to taxpayer dollars. They use it to bail out their friends on Wall Street and their corporate cronies and to reward contributors and to buy votes via earmarks. […] There’s a name for this, it’s called ‘corporate crony capitalism'”

“Earmarks” is a traditional GOP talking point, but the government bailing out Wall Street and corporate crony capitalism? That’s the kind of message I’ve been looking for from progressives since 2008. Palin even goes after “corporate welfare.”

Of course Palin goes on to use this populist rhetoric to advocate for traditional conservative goals: smaller government, “free markets,” lower taxes, and cuts in spending.

I say “traditional conservative goals” because the GOP and various lobbying groups (the Cato Institute, American Enterprise Institute, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce backed by some of the biggest corporations in our country) have been trying to get rid of government for years.

Why? Because in the absence of government, it’s you against giant multinational corporations. If a corporation cheats you and your only alternative is to try and go up against their corporate lawyers and endless cash, you really have no alternative. In this situation, the corporations will almost always win.

Still, it’s interesting that Ms. Palin actually comes out against big business and corporate welfare. And it’s a shame that more Democratic politicians haven’t.

Has Sarah Palin become more populist? Or is she simply trying to use populist rhetoric to justify traditional GOP goals?

Regardless, I score her the first moment of truth in the 2012 elections (as hard as that is to say).