11.17.2010 0

The 2010 Person of the Year: The Political Outsider

By David Bozeman –

Whenever the dominant political culture starts calling for moderation and a return to civility, it usually means that conservatives are exercising their Constitutional rights again. The recent Rally for Sanity on the national mall was reportedly tongue-in-cheek, but it underscored a mindset that regularly reminded us throughout the Bush years that dissent was not only proper, it was downright patriotic. Today, by contrast according to the mindset, “All you uneducated hicks in all the Podunkvilles need to lower your voices — a great man is re-aligning society on your sorry behalf, so show a little gratitude.”

But tea partiers, acting in concert and not under the sway of a titular charismatic orator, dominated the daily discourse in 2009 and reshaped the political landscape in 2010. The current administration is now playing catch-up, but Republicans were placed on high-alert, as well.

Simply an R by your name, with the claim that only a moderate can win the general election, is no longer a guarantee of your political survival. Some of the year’s most inspiring conservative figures, in fact, fought their toughest battles with the GOP establishment. Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle lost hard-fought races, and Joe Miller appears headed for defeat in Alaska. Sarah Palin’s support for them reportedly led Alabama Congressman Spencer Bachus to assert that the former governor had “cost us control of the Senate.”

Bit of a stretch there, given that more than half of her picks prevailed. No one ever predicted that conservatives would win every race, but they, arguably, could have closed the gaps sooner if the top talking heads — the Roves, the Krauthammers — had not displayed such embarrassment at Palin, O’Donnell and anyone who doesn’t talk like a policy wonk working the nightly Georgetown cocktail circuit.

Ronald Reagan’s nomination and two electoral landslides seem inevitable in hindsight, but he ran twice before winning, including the epic showdown with President Ford in ‘76. Reagan had backed Goldwater in ‘64, who lost in a blowout, but he persevered, determined to re-make the GOP as the permanent political home for conservatives, including disaffected Democrats.

Were it not for outsiders such as Reagan then and now Senator-elect Ron Johnson of Wisconsin (tea party activist and first-time candidate), the Republican Party would never register as a viable alternative to a Democratic Party that surely would like to have turned us into Sweden by now.

And, of course, Sarah Palin remains the most talked-about woman in American politics. Tireless campaigner, bestselling author, FOX News analyst and now a reality star, even if she doesn’t run for president in 2012, her endorsement will surely carry enormous weight. Not a bad year for a private citizen. Nancy Pelosi, by contrast, will be lucky to win the post of minority leader in the House — someone’s star remains bright and it isn’t hers.

Palin resigned as governor in 2009, disarming her enemies who sought to destroy her under the weight of bogus ethics complaints, leaving her free to roam about the country, shining, laughing and speaking out for important candidates and issues.

The surest sign of her astuteness and relevance is that the Palin name still enrages the left. CNN’s Showbiz Tonight pondered how the not-really-so-bad Bristol made it to the final four on Dancing With the Stars. Could it be her mom’s supporters voting for her? Yes, ABC’s top-rated show could well be a — gasp! — popularity contest! Who knew? Could it not be that the Palin women are just unstoppable? Could a Palin dynasty be emerging?

This year, at least, you are as likely to find the real movers and shakers in backwater flyover states as in Washington, D.C. It’s not sanity liberals want restored, it’s their relevance.

David Bozeman, former Libertarian Party Chairman, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer.

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