As I read Dan Riehl’s impassioned plea for Republican elitists to stop denigrating grassroots conservative favorites (like Sarah Palin), I recall how, a few years back, many such elitists of a previous generation had similar concerns about a conservative politician beloved by the grassroots, a man who could communicate his ideas while showing that he understood their concerns.
When he was the Republican nominee for President in 1980, he won 44 states.
Like Dan, I believe we need both the elites and the grassroots. In his 1980 general election campagin, Ronald Reagan succeeded in bringing the two together, a success which would come to define his political career. Once in the White house, he tapped smart conservative intellectuals to advise him and serve in his Administration while keeping up his correspondence from a number of people in the heartland, always responding to concerns they raised in their letters.
While Sarah Palin has a long way to go to attain the Gipper’s familiarity with conservative ideas, she does have many of his gifts. “She,” as Dan notes, echoing something even a number of conservative intellectuals have pointed out, “connects with people to the extent they see her as one of them.” He reminds those elites who are skeptical of Sarah Palin that we need someone who can communicate with the American people:
Until elitist Republicans get over this fear they have of the media turning our latest personality into a perceived liability, Republicans and conservatives are never going to be able to reach out into the electorate as broadly as they need to do to win.
As the Gipper well understood, the GOP needed the bluebloods as well as blue collar workers to win. And today, we need the Charles Krauthammers and John McCains as well as the Rush Limbaughs and Sarah Palins. It’s not an either/or situation, it’s both/and.
And the sooner we learn that, the quicker we recapture our majorities.