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Elite Republicans Should Quit Griping About Palin & Remember the Gipper

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.



  1. Ronald Reagan served two terms as governor of California. He ran for president three times on his own, not as someone’s running mate.

    Sarah Palin has served ½ term as governor.

    Sarah Palin is a good Republican, but she’s no Ronald Reagan.

    Comment by Geena — November 24, 2009 @ 1:23 pm - November 24, 2009

  2. The Republican elites will embrace Sarah as they did 30 years before with Reagan. The Gipper was not too popular with them either, but they put up with him anyway because he brought victory.

    We have a government that is so arrogant, that people feel so disconnected, the American populous will listen to anyone who will speak the plain truth!

    Comment by Dave_62 — November 24, 2009 @ 3:58 pm - November 24, 2009

  3. sarah Palin, though only served 1/2 of her term, is a very successful governor. she kept all her promises before living the office =)

    Comment by grace — November 24, 2009 @ 9:56 pm - November 24, 2009

  4. From my poor math, Reagan was Governor of CA when he was 55, and became President at 70. Palin was Governor of Alaska at around 42, and was running for Vice-President at 44.

    By the Reagan Republican yardstick, she has a very good start, still has at least a good 30 years of Politics in her, and I’m looking forward to seeing how she develops as a political figure.

    Comment by Georg Felis — November 25, 2009 @ 3:46 pm - November 25, 2009

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