By Phil Fraietta
Following the exposure of Governor Sarah Palin after she was selected as the Vice-Presidential candidate for the Republican Party, the Party has seen a great schism. On one side of the fence stand the populist conservatives, on the other stand the small-government/intellectual conservatives (this is not to suggest populist conservatives are not intellectual it is just a political term). Governor Palin clearly represents the ideals of populist conservatism and to myself, and other small-government conservatives, this is not the direction the Republican Party should be heading.
First, it is necessary to explain what is meant by “populist conservatism,” and why Governor Palin’s adherence to it divides the Republican Party. The term “populist” refers to a political philosophy that puts the ordinary people above the elites of society. When the word “conservatism” is attached, it simply means a political philosophy that places the ordinary people over the elites of society while supporting conservative positions. By this definition, Governor Palin clearly is a “populist conservative.” The Governor constantly stresses the point that she is just an ordinary “hockey mom;” this is great and all, but as a small-government conservative the fact that the Governor hosts a bake sale for her son’s hockey team doesn’t really mean much to me.
Personally, I want to hear why we must support a privatization of Social Security, why we must install a school voucher system, and why we must drastically cut, if not eliminate, the capital gains tax. Maybe I just haven’t had the television on at the right time, but I do not recall ever hearing the Governor address matters such as these. Rather, she spends her time ranting about “the liberal media elite,” abortion, hunting moose, her family and “real” America.
This brings me to my next point, what is the ‘real America’? Am I not a real American because I do not hunt? Am I not a real American because I take interest in our financial markets? Am I not a real American because I happen to live in New York? When Governor Palin speaks of this real America she has effectively isolated the Republican Party to just include those who live according to her lifestyle. This is why her adherence to populist conservatism serves as a divider to the Republican Party. She effectively excludes all those who advocate small-government conservatism, moderate conservatism, libertarian-conservatism, etc.
If Senator Obama is elected on Tuesday, November 4th, I will personally point the finger of blame at Governor Palin. She has turned the Republican Party into an exclusive party of populism: a party that does not include intellectuals, corporate businessmen, social moderates and non-religious people. I urge conservatives of all types to think about why our movement was so successful in the past before anointing Governor Palin as the Party’s new-coming star, and nominee for 2012. Let us not give the image that Republicans are ordinary people with ordinary ideas, but let us give the image that Republicans are intellectual people with small government ideas based on free-market economic theory.