In these days of make culture-war not any sort of peace, Sarah Palin, the former governor for all pit bulls, might well be the best Alaskan to fill the now vacant seat of the late Rep. Don Young, the Congressman for all Alaska.
Yes, this might sound crazy at first, but the world has gone crazy. Right now, there is probably a reality show writer and producer somewhere working on a script for “Ms. Palin goes to Washington” just in case she wins the upcoming special election for Alaska’s lone seat in the House of Representatives.
Who knows if the former half-term governor has ever watched the Frank Capra classic movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” but she clearly fancies herself someone interested in fixing a corrupt political system.
Remember all her ranting about “crony capitalism.” It did sound more than a little hypocritical coming out of the mouth of someone who once was collecting state per diem for being absent from the governor’s mansion in Juneau because she was living in her own home in Wasilla, but she had a point.
All Americans should favor what she described as “competition on a level playing field” rather than on a field manipulated to favor the friends, families and cronies of politicians or bureaucrats.
This was what was once called simply “fairness.”
There was a lot of crony capitalism – if it can even be called capitalism – going on before the pandemic, and it’s only gotten worse since.
Taxpayers for Common Sense at the start of the year warned that the “emergency spending” of the pandemic has become the endemic spending of today.
“COVID-19 response fueled government payments to businesses involved in farming to a record $47 billion in 2020,” the organization noted. “Coupled with a stronger than expected rebound in crop prices and fewer losses, as a sector agriculture experienced its highest level of income since 2013.
“Flush with cash, a year of experience with COVID under their belt and projections of even higher prices in 2021, agricultural special interests told Washington, ‘thanks, we’re good.’ JUST KIDDING. They actually lobbied for and received $10.3 billion in ’emergency’ subsidies for natural disasters (not the pandemic) last September even as economists projected 2021 income would exceed 2020’s levels. Oh, and it did.”
Given that the country is now led by a crony capitalist, it would be nice to have someone in Congress at least talking about this subject. Palin isn’t known for getting much of anything done, other than bait slobbering mainstream media types to chase her vacationing family around the country in 2011 on what NPR dubbed a “Mystery Bus Tour” and fanning the flames of the nation’s culture war.
But she is as good at catchy one-liners – can you say “death panels?” – as Sen. Joe Biden, now President Joe Biden, was at crony capitalism.
Mother Jones, a magazine solidly on the left, didn’t use that exact term to define Biden, but its 2019 story headlined “House of Cards: How Joe Biden helped build a financial system that’s great for Delaware banks and terrible for the rest of us” offers a nice description of how crony capitalism works.
Biden made his millions on books sales and speaking fees, most of it coming from businesses he helped get sweetheart legislation through Congress. On this front, about the only difference between Biden and predecessor President Donald Trump is that one was a private-sector con man and the other a public sector con man.
A populist Palin in Washington, D.C. – the homeland of crony capitalists – ranting about crony capitalism would at least be entertaining if, of course, she didn’t up and opt to go where the money is and switch sides.
Out of Alaska
She does have something of a track record in this regard. As governor, she was the de facto leader of state House Democrats wanting to tax the snot out of the state’s oil and gas industry, until she was picked as the running mate of the late Republican presidential candidate John McCain and became a rabid economic conservative.
And after McCain lost the election to Barak Obama, she was quick to spot the money to be made in becoming Obama’s chief critic and promptly abandoned the job as Alaska governor to become arguably the Republican party’s biggest polebrity.
These things happen in politics.
Young had his own checkered history. The scourge of environmentalists for four decades – with his office full of dead animals, his support for hunting and trapping and his embrace of some sorts of development – he actually got his start in politics as a greenie.
The planned 530-foot high, nearly-mile long barricade across the Rampart Canyon would have created a reservoir 400 miles long and 80 miles wide, a reservoir bigger than Lake Erie. All that water would in turn have powered turbines capable of generating 5,000 megawatts of electricity, or more than four times the power of the Booneville Dam on the Columbia River.
The Bonneville and other dams on the Columbia are blamed for the drastic decline in the number of Chinook salmon returning there now compared to 80 or 90 years ago. But it probably should be noted Chinook, the big “kings” as Alaskans call them, aren’t doing much better in the Yukon than in the Columbia.
Palin, like Young, has largely been a backer of development.
So just imagine the fireworks that could erupt between a Rep. Palin and fellow polebrity Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., with Palin believing “climate change” is a government plot “to have more control over us, our homes, our businesses, our families, our lives,” according to EENews, and Ocasio-Cortez’s believing that”‘the world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change,” according to USA Today.
And neither of these women could be described as shy.
Ocasio-Cortex didn’t coin the phrase “don’t retreat, reload.” That belongs to Palin and some unidentified Palin handler. But Ocasio-Cortez has certainly embraced the relooading philosophy.
Not only is she ever ready to battle those agin’ her, she’s even itchin’ for a fight with those who aren’t 110 percent with her.
Older members of Congress, “who have been around in different political times (think) that we can get back to this time of buddy-buddy and backslapping and we’ll cut a deal and go into a room with some bourbon and some smoke and you’ll come out and work something out,” she told New York magazine just days ago. “I think there’s a real nostalgia and belief that that time still exists or that we can get back to that.”
As far as she’s concerned, those days are over, and it’s time to get down into the trenches and go to war, a theme Palin started pushing more than a decade ago. The only real difference between the two is that one lives on the left side of the political spectrum and the other on the right.
Think of what fun it would be if MMA Fighting could get them in the cage together. Not to mention the money that could be made off pay per view.
And given the high-centered shitshow politics has become in the U.S. today, shouldn’t the citizenry at least get some entertainment out of it?
Whether Palin has any chance of winning another Alaska election is hard to say.
She clearly has more name recognition than anyone in the race save Santa Claus (yes, a North Pole councilman with that legal name is in the race), and even after bailing out of the governor’s mansion after only two years to pursue a new career as a firebrand American polebrity, she retains a core of diehard supporters.
She also has a core of diehards opponents and critics on the left, some of whom were her biggest supporters when she pushed through Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share (ACES) tax on the oil industry in 2007.
Fearing the tax was taking such a big bite out of the oil companies that they were turning sour on the 49th state, it was replaced with the More Alaska Production Act (MAPA) four years after Palin abandoned Alaska for greener pastures Outside.
That abandonment, her toying with the idea of moving to Arizona where she bought a home and where it was suggested she might challenge McCain for his Senate seat in 2014, and her aggressive posturing as a celebrity might be bigger liabilities than her Tea Party connections, her long and highly visible post-election vendetta against Obama, and her subsequent embrace of Trump are assets.
Then again, they might not.
Trump could prove an advantage for Palin. Trump buried Democrat candidate Hilary Clinton in an Alaska landslide in 2016 and handily beat Biden in 2020.
National issues appear to be lining up in such a way as to favor Republicans in Alaska, as well, which could also help Palin as could the fluidity of the state’s population. Alaska has one of the most migratory populations in the country.
A state Department of Labor examination in 2012 found less than 40 percent of the people living in Alaska were born in the state, compared to a national average of about 60 percent.
“There are always large numbers of people moving in and out, regardless of whether the overall population is growing or shrinking,” that report noted. “Depending on the year and data source, between 5 and 7 percent of Alaska’s population enters or leaves the state each year.”
Given that kind of turnover, it’s quite possible a majority of the voters in the state don’t know a thing about Palin’s time in government here, and whatever she did Outside over the course of the past 15 years might form the basis of their opinions on what sort of representative she would make.
And outside, she was sort of the opposite of Billy Joel, she did start the fire that resulted in Trump’s election.