Four years ago today at 12:26 EDT, “the world shook, the world trembled,” as John McCain made history by introducing the first Republican woman to run for Vice President. While Republicans generally – and rightfully so – shun identity politics, the announcement was the smashing of hard and thick glass ceiling. You can see it in the shock and joy of a woman in the stands as John McCain said, “mother…” That one word – “mother” – is what told the world this was no ordinary ticket. The game had changed forever.
Unknown except to her own circle and some of the conservative cognoscente, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s announcement made her an immediate international household name. During her speech and for at least an hour thereafter, the entire Internet was inaccessible in many locations as the world surfed to the City of Wasilla website and to the Alaska Governor’s Website to learn everything they could about her. Yes, even the Internet succumbed to Gov. Palin’s sonic booms which rumbled around the entire planet. The world learned and was fascinated that this woman was no stranger to doing things that were heretofore considered for “men only.” She was one of the first women to be a professional sportscaster. She took on jobs that men twice her size could not do. She hauled in thousands of pounds of salmon with a freshly broken hand. In politics, she took on the establishments of both parties – and big oil – and won.
Gov. Palin divided our calendars and changed our lives from the moment her name was uttered that summer afternoon. You can read my story, but mine is only one of millions. The NY Post’s headline the following day was only one word, but the one word which captured the extraordinary nature of the announcement.
Those who heard Gov. Palin heard Ronald Reagan’s successor – in a woman’s body. None other than Michael Reagan would say so following Gov. Palin’s convention speech on September 3, 2008. Virtually all Palinistas interpreted Gov. Palin’s carrying of his torch as being the 2008 ticket winning – and when that did not work out – Palin 2012. Though she did not run, Gov. Palin carries Reagan’s torch by executing a wish he made some 37 years ago. In 1975, the former President – at the time former governor Reagan – said, “Let’s have a new first party – a Republican Party – raising a banner of bold colors – no pale pastels – a banner instantly recognizable as standing for certain values which will not be compromised.” By her 2010 endorsements and now her 2012 endorsements, Gov. Palin is building that new first party with or without its existing establishment. Her endorsed candidates are raising that banner of bold colors.
In this RNC video made in 2008, the narrator said at 3:28, “Sarah Palin may not be 6 feet tall, but she is a self-made giant in making government work for us.” In 2010, Gov. Palin endorsed 81 candidates with an overall endorsement success rate of 68%. Her success rate on a special subset, “Take Back the 20″ was 90%, since 18 out of her 20 endorsements went on to win their elections. Gov. Palin has endorsed 14 candidates in 2012 thus far with nine primary elections held. You can see her most current success rate in the Master List of Governor Palin’s 2012 Accomplishments. She held 100% for the first six candidates she had endorsed, a record probably never achieved by anyone from either party. All her candidates were chosen specifically to make government work for us. Gov. Palin four years later is even more of a self-made giant in making government work for us.
At 3:45 in the video, the narrator concluded, “when Alaska’s maverick joined America’s maverick, the world shook; the world trembled, and the world will soon be a better place.” Though Gov. Palin’s ticket did not win, the world has become a better place since she rose to national prominence. She leveraged Facebook and Twitter to bring the health care debate, quantitative easing, energy independence, and economic policy issues to the fore. Gov. Palin touched lives outside of politics too. She conducted humanitarian missions in cholera- and earthquake-wracked Haiti and in Alabama following devastating tornadoes. She has raised over $120,000 for wounded soldiers, walked for autism, and the March of Dimes, among others. During her final seven months as Governor, Sarah Palin coordinated and led an airlift to distressed villages in remote western Alaska, sacrificing the political primping and priming, champagne and caviar of the 2009 CPAC conference. The little children to whom she personally distributed supplies were far more important than the Washington DC elites. In these and many more ways, Gov. Palin made the world a better place.
For those Palinistas whose journey began four years ago today, we are no longer rookies and are now veterans in this business. That does not mean the learning stops – quite the contrary – but more is expected of us as veterans. Being a veteran in anything can sometimes lead to being jaded. But, wherever Gov. Palin leads – even when the waters are uncharted and no matter how much time has passed – the magic of this day forever lives in each of us.