Last night, I had the privilege of attending the Faulkner University Benefit Dinner where Sarah Palin was the guest speaker. From the outset, the mere prospect of the event naturally appealed to me. Faulkner is my college alma mater, so I was pleased to be supporting their great cause of Christian education. And of course, seeing a major icon of conservatism was certainly more than an added bonus.
Now, I’ve always been fond of Sarah Palin. I’ve never thought that she was the be-all and end-all of the GOP, but I have always considered her to be a positive light in the Republican base. I remember finding out that she was going to be running mate for John McCain. Having known who she was, I was delighted to see a person who brought real charisma and energy to a seemingly lifeless ticket.
But listening to her speak in person, I realized something else about her. Perhaps it is something I’ve always known deep down. She is a genuine human being who Americans can relate to.
As soon as she walked through the crowd, the palpable energy in the room was undeniable. Make no mistake, to conservatives, this woman is a rock star. Believe me, I’ve been to countless concerts including Fleetwood Mac, Stone Temple Pilots, No Doubt and U2 (just to name a few). Although the format was altogether different, the performer in this case was no less electrifying to her audience.
Her speech was not heavy on political rhetoric nor government policy. Frankly, it wasn’t even the most polished speech I’ve ever heard. But repackaged policy arguments and political platitudes aren’t where Palin shines. It’s her authenticity. Underneath her stardom and all the publicity, she’s just a regular person that thousands if not millions of Americans can relate to. That’s why many regular, red-blooded conservatives love her. She’s one of them. And, that’s what makes the elitists on the left hate her. She’s not one of them.
Some will discount a “regular person” like Sarah Palin because she’s not a policy guru or a political expert. But that doesn’t make her stupid or less intelligent. Indeed, even many conservatives will underestimate what she’s capable of. However, the reason so many people are drawn to her is that she is the opposite of what most Americans expect out of a politician. She isn’t jaded or corrupted by the Washington atmosphere. She speaks the language of the people because in many ways, she epitomizes the average American.
As far as what the future holds for Governor Palin, who knows? A presidential run in 2012 seems inevitable. But I do know that I, like Bill Clinton, will not underestimate her.