Palin’s endorsement is day that will live in infamy for conservatives

Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Donald Trump has generated a lot of salacious talk from pundits over-eager for election-crushing political gossip. The theories range- some believe she is no longer relevant, some believe Palin’s action was a calculated political bid for the VP nod. But most seem to believe this is an attempt to bring conservatives over from grassroots darling Ted Cruz to Trump, as if the activist right will just shuffle after Palin bleating contently like mindless sheep.

But American conservatism is not supposed to be about figureheads or public figures dictating ideas and actions to the base. This is an attitude that is infuriating, denigrating and a whole host of other pejoratives. It is precisely the kind of know-better elitist attitude that has infuriated the right for the past eight years as politicians on both side of the political spectrum have clambered upon their dais and deigned to lecture their simple-minded constituents about how they need to put their petty, short-term needs below the good of the whole.

It is a dehumanizing rationale, one that grafts special insight and intellect into government officials simply because they have access to specialized information. It is the barbarous morality belonging to dictators and authoritarians, who amalgamate state and personal powers and create a hideous chimerical form of government whose superior consciousness is considered sufficient justification enough to take from some for the benefit of others.

American conservatism, or so the soaring rhetoric of stumping personalities has said, is anathema to such thinking.

That’s the real sting of Palin’s endorsement. It is a betrayal of conservative ideas- of free markets, of limited government, of localism and self-sovereignty- but far worse than that, it is a complete repudiation of the ideas at the heart of these things.

Conservatives are often accused of being too cerebral, overly focused on complex policy matters which are not easily articulated to the general public. And from the standpoint of bolstering the movement’s popularity, that may be true. But popularity and electability are often not the primary concern for real conservatives. True conservatives do not believe in capitalism simply because it’s an efficient system. The principles at the heart of capitalism, identical to those of federalism and self-sovereignty, are the real catalyst for conservative thought. And these are held at the core of the being, inextricably tied up with the survival of the soul, making adherence to ideas an exigent issue of the highest priority. Adherence to ideas, because they represent the just and the good, far outweighs any concern with political popularity.

In a country where conservatism exposes believers to denigration aimed at their humanity, their compassion, knowing that others think and feel the same is important. Navigating a society that ridicules conservative at academic, professional and cultural levels is often a gauntlet of doubt, frustration and despair. Daily, conservatives encounter entrenched biases about what they think and feel and they fight back, even often at the price of friendship and position.

So how are conservatives to feel when they see figures who are supposedly champions of their cause, whose voice spreads their message at a higher, wider level than they can hope to achieve, not only abandon those principles but speak in an unhinged manner of savaging the system they though they’d been fighting together to restore?

It is a soul-crushing betrayal, the kind that makes one wonder if every prejudice about conservatives they’ve encountered is actually true.

Regardless of whether Sarah Palin’s endorsement helps or hurts Trump, her actions have betrayed everything she claimed to stand for, hurt everyone who has defended her and ushered in a dark day for conservatives who now have to wonder if the movement they believe deeply in is nothing more than political posturing of the same kind they so deeply despise.

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Katherine Revello

A recent graduate of the University of Maine, where she majored in journalism and political science, Katherine Revello is an aspiring political commentator. Her focuses include theory, the philosophy of money and populism. Currently, she is a graduate student at Villanova University. She is the founder of The Politics of Discretion, a blog dedicated to advancing her philosophy of discretionism. Follow her on Twitter: @MrsWynandPapers

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  1. People like the Trump spectacle – the ultimate protest vote, giving politicians the ultimate middle finger. Look at them squirm.

  2. until now my vote was never influenced by endorsements. But this year I was undecided between Cruz and trump. Palin’s endorsement puts my vote in the Trump column.

  3. Very good article, I am a liberal by the way. I just have one question. How does Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Donald Trump betray conservatism? Maybe I missed something, but I do not see your argument in this article and I want to see and get your point. I do find Palin to be entertaining and hard to watch but I always chase Palin down with a shot of Tina Fey. Thank you.

    1. Darren,

      There are many ways to define liberalism and conservatism, but to me the difference is about what level of government the ideology puts the emphasis on. Liberalism emphasizes the power of the federal government to protect individuals while conservatism emphasizes restrained, local government as the best way to protect individuals. This is certainly what the Tea Party, of which Sarah Palin was an important figure, was about. Donald Trump’s policies are not in support of limited government or the constraints of the Constitution. They tend to be more focused on using the power of the federal government, just in a more effective way than Trump believes is currently being done. This is antithetical to the Tea Party idea Palin formerly appeared to endorse which is what I mean by Palin betraying conservatism.

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