I made the point the other day that Sarah Palin’s speech in Indianola, Iowa, went to the core of the Tea Party movement:
I don’t know what the future holds for Palin, whether she will be a candidate or just a powerful voice against crony capitalism. I also don’t know whether the two are compatible. I am not convinced that even the Republican electorate is ready for the message. That’s for another day.
What I do know is that in attacking crony capitalism, Palin gave voice to those of us who refuse to buy into the Democratic narrative that the answer to Democratic union pandering is Republican big business pandering. It’s not about them, it’s about us.
Pigs fly today. Anand Giridharadas at The NY Times picks up on this theme, recognizing that in vilifying Palin liberals have closed their minds to Palin’s ideas, which are liberal (in the traditional sense, not the modern Democratic Party sense):
Ms. Palin’s third point was more striking still: in contrast to the sweeping paeans to capitalism and the free market delivered by the Republican presidential candidates whose ranks she has yet to join, she sought to make a distinction between good capitalists and bad ones. The good ones, in her telling, are those small businesses that take risks and sink and swim in the churning market; the bad ones are well-connected megacorporations that live off bailouts, dodge taxes and profit terrifically while creating no jobs.
Strangely, she was saying things that liberals might like, if not for Ms. Palin’s having said them.
A severe injustice has been perpetrated on the American people not by the vile derangement directed at Palin by the mainstream media, left-blogosphere and establishment conservatives, but by the closing of their collective minds.
The author also hints at possible things to come:
Is there a hint of a political breakthrough hiding in there?
The political conversation in the United States is paralyzed by a simplistic division of labor. Democrats protect that portion of human flourishing that is threatened by big money and enhanced by government action. Republicans protect that portion of human flourishing that is threatened by big government and enhanced by the free market.
What is seldom said is that human flourishing is a complex and delicate thing, and that we needn’t choose whether government or the market jeopardizes it more, because both can threaten it at the same time.
Ms. Palin may be hinting at a new political alignment that would pit a vigorous localism against a kind of national-global institutionalism.
On one side would be those Americans who believe in the power of vast, well-developed institutions like Goldman Sachs, the Teamsters Union, General Electric, Google and the U.S. Department of Education to make the world better. On the other side would be people who believe that power, whether public or private, becomes corrupt and unresponsive the more remote and more anonymous it becomes; they would press to live in self-contained, self-governing enclaves that bear the burden of their own prosperity.
No one knows yet whether Ms. Palin will actually run for president. But she did just get more interesting.
This probably will not signal a sea change in media coverage of Palin, or among conservative pundits. Liberals and conservatives alike have been played for fools by their media and their parties.
But hopefully it is a starting point of the recognition that Palin stands alone among major political figures in the United States seeking a transformation of the country consistent with its founding principles, not against them, principles which used to appeal to liberals. Palin’s anti-statist anti-crony capitalism message has the power to reach across parties, which is why that message gets buried in Palin Derangement Syndrome.
With Palin, liberals will not get their nanny state, but that nanny state is disappearing by economic necessity anyway. But they also will not get a crushing corporatist/unionist state serving the interests of the politically well-connected, which is where we are heading rapidly, and there is no offender worse than Barack Obama.
Oddly enough, Sarah Palin may be the one liberals have been waiting for.