Sarah Palin and I began our public political journeys at the same time. I began my journey writing columns for the Mustang Daily the same week that she made her debut debating Joe Biden during the 2008 presidential campaign. So it’s interesting for me to return to Palin more than two years later to consider how far we’ve both come and the extent that our views have been solidified on opposite ends of the political spectrum.
When I heard Palin’s speech at the Boston Tea Party on the news Wednesday, among all of the signs — one sign especially waving proudly, which I thought was maybe the most honest and the funniest, reading, “White People are Pissed” — she said, “You can keep your change, and we’ll keep our Constitution, religion and guns.” As the crowd erupted into applause and cheers, it suddenly struck me that the gap between their views and my own is so vast that I’m not sure that they can ever be bridged. I may never come to see Palin’s views as ideas, which should travel beyond the glass window at a coffee shop or the back door of a home.
But I think that on a more useful, intellectual level, her views and her followers’ views disregard the serious problems our country faced only two years ago — and that’s the larger evil. Palin decried the Democrats’ ‘change’ frequently in her speech before the substantial Tea Party gathering in Boston Wednesday, and it sounds good to say the problems our country is facing are due to President Obama’s lack of action or his views regarding economic policy.
But it’s simply not true. Our economic problems are due to the Republicans’ lack of regulation, and the Bush administration’s general failures from 2000-2008. That’s why President Obama won the election by such a landslide; McPalin’s policies were just a continuation of the Bush administration’s policies. Only two years later, it’s easy for people to forget where we came from, or for conservatives to deflect this truth by retorting that the Bush administration isn’t in office anymore, so we can’t blame them for today’s troubles. They’re correct in that it does no good to continuously blame the previous administration for their wrongs — but we have to remember that a lack of regulation is the reason we’re in this economic downturn in the first place.
In fact, much of the Obama administration’s work in reforming Wall Street is just an effort to undo either the bad policies or the spirit of deregulation and corruption engendered during the Bush administration. The reason the housing market collapsed is that banks gave people loans with interest rates that rose as the years went on, with the optimistic view that as the strength of the economy increased, people’s incomes would increase and their mortgage payment would also increase. The economy went under; people lost their jobs, and these banks that had dispersed bad loans found themselves going under, too. The view of the Bush administration was that these banks were too big to fail. The American public, the Democrats and the Obama administration now believe differently.
The White House is now attempting to push a financial reform bill, which would prevent bailouts of large financial firms in the future, such as the $700 billion Wall Street bailout passed under the Bush administration. The prevailing view is now that no financial firm is too big to fail. Reuters reports that within the bill there is “a provision that would allow regulators to step in to dismantle large, troubled firms.”
Republicans argue that this provision alludes to endless bailouts. But that’s simply not true. Jen Psaki, White House deputy communications director said in response to the Republicans’ claim, “The Senate bill explicitly mandates that a large financial firm that faces failure will be allowed to fail, and it explicitly prohibits the use of any funds to ‘bail out’ a failing firm. Large financial firms, not taxpayers, will be required to bear the costs.”
So when Palin cries out to a cheering, sadly misinformed crowd, “You can keep your change, and we’ll keep our Constitution, religion and guns,” the only response I can have is: Please, keep your religion and your guns, and I’ll keep my relationship with God, the change, the Constitution and my sense of reality.