Friday, July 2, 2010

Going Rogue is not such a bad idea after all

When we travel from Texas to Arizona and back every so often (to visit our children, grandchildren and second home in the beautiful Arizona West Valley), Kay and I like to get a book on tape and listen to it. Usually we try to find something about the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln, or something that isn't as current as today's newspaper.

This time, however, I chose, after a careful five minutes of study, to purchase a copy of Sarah Palin's Going Rogue. I did so partly out of curiosity and partly to get some kind of objective perspective on this very unique political personage.

In all honesty, I leaped for joy when John McCain chose Sarah as his running mate in the last presidential election. I thought he showed creativity, wisdom, and a willingness to depart from the "good ole' party line" when he chose a woman with children of varying ages, from a state without much political clout in elections or in Washington. By November, I voted for the McCain-Palin ticket more for Palin than for McCain, who seemed to run out of steam as if he knew the inevitable reality of President Obama's history-making election was upon him.

After the election, I was puzzled by many of Sarah's actions and the awful news coverage the mainstream media continued to drum up about her. She clearly was no darling of the liberal New York Times, Washington Post, . . . and even Yahoo News, which never missed an opportunity to gut her at every turn in its headlines or placement of questionable stories.

We listened to Sarah read her book to us for nearly 14 hours as our pickup truck made its way over familiar roads through West Texas, into New Mexico, and finally to Arizona's West Valley outside of Phoenix.

Sarah presented a very believable and understandable response to all the ugly headlines and comments made by the liberal Democrats and media—and even some Republicans—about her.

I liked some of what I heard Sarah say, but I didn't like some other things I heard her say. I also was puzzled by some of the things she needed to say but didn't.

She pictured herself as a maverick who was willing to stand up to party bosses and pros who think they and they alone know what is best for the country, including you and me. That part I admire very much. I personally consider myself—and those who have read my newspaper and blog columns over the years would likely agree—as "going rogue" in religious and political beliefs and actions. I don't like bureaucracies or party bosses of any persuasion trying to dictate to me what I should or should not believe.

In her book and in her lifestyle, Sarah displayed guts and independence—values I admire. I especially liked the fact that she truly lived up to the title of her book—Going Rogue. In my lifetime, I don't remember another politician of her stature with as much gumption as she has displayed. And that is very good. Too many in both political parties and too many denominations go along to get along with whatever their party bosses and leadership say or do. We desperately need in the U.S. political system—and the U.S. churches for that matter, too—leaders and people who are willing to think for themselves, speak for themselves, do the right thing, and act for the better good. Sarah seemed to personify all those elements.

What I didn't like were:

1. Her incessant references to Ronald Reagan and the Reagan legacy. She barely gave the Bushes a nod. and acted like she couldn't remember the name of any other Republican president (or for that matter Democratic president other than Barach Obama) who have occupied the White House. (There have been plenty, both good and bad.) Since I don't worship Reagan (or any other political leader) and found Bush The First much more likable and palatable than most people did, you can imagine that her "Reagan, Reagan, Reagan" did not set well with me.

2. I also didn't like some of her conclusions about what needs to be done in Washington. I liked some, but not all of what she said. (What would you expect from two "rogues"?)

What bothered me most, however, was what she did not say.

America's and the world's problems run much deeper than just the U.S. federal government and the ridiculous deficits that are occurring.

My federal tax rate has actually dropped over the past 10 years, thanks to former President George W. Bush's extreme tax cuts. The U.S. government has done nothing to make my life worse, except for Bush the Second's misrepresentation about those weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the irresponsible way his administration let the banks and Wall Street get away with the things that led to the Great Recession.

But during the last 10 years my state and local property taxes sure haven't been lessened or held steady. Despite all the baloney about cutting taxes, Texas' Republican governor has overseen a massive (at least in my neighborhood) increase in the tax increase flowing to our local school district, city, and county.

And despite all the screaming and yelling that has gone on about the dangers of the feds administering health care, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, our health-insurance provider, has found a million different ways to triple our private health insurance rates (while forcing me to raise my deductibles) and cut the benefits (Oh, we're sorry but that medicine or drug or treatment isn't covered by your policy because of a loophole or technicality that we have hidden in fine print somewhere in your policy!).

And my local Kroger's, Walmart, and other friendly neighborhood haunts have found lots and lots of ways to raise their prices massively while telling me in their unending marketing campaigns how they are out to cut prices and help the little guy on a fixed income.

I just wish Sarah had mentioned some of these issues, too. The federal government is NOT the only problem. Multinational companies, huge hoggish banks, gigantic manipulative insurance companies and other bureaucracies and entities that Pope John Paul II used to warn us about are just as evil today as in the days when PJP wandered the earth in his popemobiles, jet planes and trains, and warned of the dangers that were developing because of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.

Neither America's nor the world's problems will be fully fixed in Washington. Instead, they will be fixed by compassionate caring in local neighborhoods; honest and straightforward politicians at all levels of government and not just the national level; ethical standards returning to the business world; and a myriad of other positive steps by honest and diligently working people of all races, nationalities, religions, and economic levels.

The problems we face today are too complex for simple solutions or pat answers.

I like the idea of "going rogue" and breaking with party bosses, traditions, and doing things "as they have always been done." Three cheers for Sarah for doing that.

I just think Sarah needs to take it about five levels up. I hope she will. At least she is saying what most politicians wouldn't dream of saying: that their party is wrong on certain issues and has been wrong at other times, too.

She struck me as neither a Republican nor a Democrat. I especially liked the fact that her husband likes to vote independently and won't toddy to any political party.

Keep your eyes on this "rogue" politician. She just might—I repeat might—keep on growing into the type of political leader this country and the world so desperately need—one with courage, independence, and the guts to do and say that which is right regardless of whose little political toes get stepped on.

No comments: