Friday, July 16, 2010

Sarah Palin and Andrew Jackson

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 7/16/10

Last night I was happy to be interviewed on the Lee Davis Show about my essay on Sarah Palin earlier this week and several points are worth repeating. The first is that Sarah Palin is an archetypal figure who challenges the existing establishment. As entrenched inside-the-Beltway interests including commentators, politicians, late night entertainers, demagogues and outright nut jobs react to protect the establishment by caricaturing the Tea Party as a brawling “Hee-Haw” lot of country bumpkins with Palin in the lead as Minnie Pearl with the straw hat with the tag still on it, Palin’s entry into a variety of races, particularly Nikki Haley’s in South Carolina and Carly Fiorina’s in California, brought the original ideas of the Tea Parties to a broader audience in a greater marketing package. In effect, she has been building her own political establishment. With a clever strategist on hand like Jenny Sanford, who should be running Palin’s program, Haley, a Tea Party original, now advances her ideas to a new regional and national level of marketing. Thanks to Sarah Palin.

The second point worth reviewing is the recent Republican primary in Texas when Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, George H.W. Bush and Karen Hughes on behalf of George W. Bush all lined up behind Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. Governor Rick Perry had the support of Sarah Palin. What was interesting about this race is that Hutchison never had a chance. So why did such a group of respected establishment conservatives line up behind her? Because they weren’t so much opposing Perry as they were Palin. This was the definitive moment politics had been building forward momentum to since the NY 23 race with Doug Hoffman in the fall, and it brought substance to a newborn political direction.

Today conservatives are reading Hayek and supporting Ron Paul in opposition to the globalist post-war tradition of both parties. The 21st century is contained in this fledgling paradigm. In time, say by 2016 or 2020, this division within the conservative movement will be more important to our development than the 20th century’s “creative contention” between Democrats and Republicans, and strategists should take a long-term approach.

The change that is rising now with Palin, Ron Paul and the Tea Parties certainly contains Jeffersonian elements about placing limits on the federal government, but culturally it also resembles the rise of Andrew Jackson and the free people of the western regions demanding their place and coming into the country politically. The icons of the colonial period felt the same shock and awe that the entrenched interests and Beltway people do today.

“I had never any doubts of the stability of our institutions, till the subject given to Andrew Jackson in 1824 for President of the United States,” wrote Jefferson. “- a man who in every situation he has filled, either civil or military, has made it a rule to DISOBEY ORDERS and SUBSTITUTE HIS OWN WILL FOR LAW.” (His caps.)

Did I say demagogues and nut jobs? Best practices and summer reading today might include H.W. Brands excellent biography of Andrew Jackson because our new century today is developing the same internal dynamics as the age of Jackson. And regarding the procession of archetypes, their spirits embody generations as Jefferson did, as Victoria did, as the Kennedys did. Very much worth noting that when Jefferson died the Jacksonian movement was hard on his heels and we are at such a transition today.