Alex Massie

Sarah Palin: Friend to Liberty?

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Radley Balko says that, yes, perhaps she is. At least sort of. At least more so than her running-mate and, it must be said, more so than Barack Obama. True, Radley has to dig quite deep to find the ore to be refined into a "Sarah Palin, Friend-to--the-Libertarians" bracelet, but there's at least a trace of the stuff to be mined:

But what I like about Palin should bother McCain. Palin actually has staked out unorthodox positions on a number of interesting issues, and they're issues that McCain and the Republican base that has embraced her would probably find troubling. Palin's taken a lot of heat, for example, for her (relatively loose) ties with the Alaska Independence Party, an organization that favors a vote on whether the state should secede from the union. Palin has also been friendly with the state's Libertarian Party. Palin's willingness to engage pro-liberty, deeply anti-federal political organizations—even fringe ones—is refreshing. But it's wholly at odds with John McCain's "country first" nationalist fervor.

Palin was also one of just three governors in the country to issue a proclamation in support of "Jurors' Rights" day, an event sponsored by the Fully Informed Jury Association, which encourages the doctrine of jury nullification. Nullification is an idea abhorred by tough-on-crime conservatives.

Palin also comes from a state whose constitution has one of the strongest privacy provisions in the country. Alaska's traditional reverence for privacy and personal autonomy is reflected in a number of issues that would likely be at odds with the national Republican Party—or at least the Bush administration—including a rejection of the Real ID Act, and the de facto decriminalization of marijuana.

...Palin's persona thus far seems to be more in the tradition of Alaska's frontier, individualistic conservatism than John McCain's Weekly Standard-style national greatness conservatism. It's a philosophy that's skeptical of government, instead of what Repubilcans stand for now, which is to embrace government, so long as Republicans are running it.

I think there's something to this. Of course, you could also make the argument that this proves still further that Palin wasn't properly vetted. But it also suggests that she's a rather more interesting, and perhaps substantial, politician than she is being given credit for. Or, if you are one of those who discount the possibility that the lady has a brain, that her instincts are more interesting than other politicians.

At the very least, she's some distance from a cookie-cutter Washington politician. Yes, there are serious issues about her readiness to be President if McCain were to pop off in February, but it's possible to acknowledge those while also thinking it no bad thing that, for the first time in more than 30 years, the Vice-Presidency could be held by someone other than a career Washington politician. 

Clearly it's likely that she's can't be 100% good for the libertarians (who is?) but that doesn't mean that there aren't good things to be found amidst the bad. Just like any other normal politician. Doubtless these interesting opinions will be beaten out of her soon enough...

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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