Like so many other women, I followed Sarah Palin’s rise to the national stage when she was chosen as the GOP nominee for Vice President in the 2008 election. Even before McCain’s announcement I was familiar with then-Governor Palin because of her pro-life stance when faced with the birth of her beautiful son, Trig. However, I will admit that until she brought national attention to the issue, I was not aware that 90% of all babies diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome are aborted before birth.
My husband and I were electrified during her speech at the Republican National Convention wondering what this seemingly normal woman would bring to the national debate. Only later did we learn she delivered that rousing speech even after the teleprompter failed. The unscripted, now-infamous joke about the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull became a tagline-- “Lipstick Republican”-- for many of us.
Naturally, I was delighted to read her book Going Rogue, An American Life and get to know the truth about this incredible mom.
The thing that struck me more than anything else about her story is the realization that Sarah Palin really is just an average person who got involved. She never followed the typical political model – attending an ivy league university, followed by law school, learning to network with all the right people, and being willing to change your political ideals to win elections. It’s my opinion that her genuine desire to stand up for everyday people in the face of corruption is exactly why the political establishments don’t like her and why millions of Americans love her. She is one of us. At her core, she is “just a mom" whose life is filled with the same ups and down and complications that life brings, but who remains grounded in her faith and family, and honestly wants to make the world a better place for her children.
The first half of the book is a relatively dry biography that I felt lacked a personal connection, maybe because it’s similar in many ways to our own lives: childhood, school, sports, boyfriend, and the struggle to find yourself after graduation, followed by marriage and children. She calls on her unique Alaskan roots that grounded her in an honest relationship with environmental issues and a sense of independence. For me, the emotional connection really kicked in as she described her pregnancy with Trig and all the emotion that came with the discovery of his extra chromosome.
When John McCain tapped Sarah for the Vice President spot on the ticket, she plunged herself wholly into the campaign, bringing her down-to-earth ideas and energy. While maintaining an ardent loyalty to Sen. McCain, Sarah gives the readers a glimpse into the “handling” of a national campaign, and her frustration with how “headquarters” repeatedly restrained or changed her desired public message. She earned the label “Going Rogue” by following her own common-sense instincts after the campaign tried to put on the brakes on her way of doing things.
If you read nothing else in this book, read the last chapter and the Epilogue. Those two sections will tell you exactly what type of person Palin is, what she believes in, and her goals for our country. Sarah Palin calls herself a “commonsense conservative,” which is an accurate description of her views. Most of what she espouses is not radical or extremist, but parallels the views of middle America.