My copy of Governor Sarah Palin’s book, Going Rogue: An American Life came a week ago. I’m typically not a fan of autobiographies or political memoirs. When I go into a bookstore that type of book isn’t what I usually leave with. So this book purchase was solely due to my being a supporter of the Governor’s.
I found Going Rogue to be an enjoyable, insightful and engaging read. Palin gives readers a peak into her life, her record, her priorities and her policies “unfiltered.” You also get a sense of her heart to serve. She recounted a friend saying to her that in politics, “you either eat well or you sleep well.” She chose the later which led to making tough choices that were not necessarily comfortable or easy, but were made in the best interest of her state. Those decisions ranged from challenging corruption to her decision to resign as Governor.
One of of the things I was struck by was her sense of humor. Such as in her description of when her first child, Track’s birth (talking about Labor and how her family took her to the hospital entrance that said “Deliveries”) to watching Vice President Joe Biden’s pre-debate stretching. Also, while she has certainly lived an extraordinary life, you do see how mainstream her life really was from her childhood to even as a Vice Presidential candidate (changing her son’s diaper right before the VP debate).
Another thing that you see throughout the book is her work ethic. Nothing was handed to her, and you do not get a sense of entitlement. She worked hard growing up, and she worked he way through college having to pay her own way. She had hard-earned political victories to the Wasilla City Council, and then also as she beat incumbents when she ran for Mayor and Governor. She was a trailblazer for women in politics within Alaska, but also gives much credit to those who went before her. As Mayor, Governor and even as a Vice-Presidential candidate you see her desire to work hard and connect with and listen to her constituency.
Also you can see throughout her book the role her faith in Christ plays in her life. Describing at an early age when she placed her faith in Christ at a Bible Camp, attending Wasilla Assembly of God, her involvement in Fellowship of Christian Athletes, her Bible study habits growing up, how she relied on Him through two miscarriages, learning that Trig had Down Syndrome, pointing out God’s providence throughout her life (in good and bad), and readers get a glimpse of her prayer life. At the end of her acknowledgements she encourages readers to do what she did when she was a kid.
And I do know there is a God. My life is in His hands. I encourage readers to do what I did many years ago, invite Him in to take over… then see what He will do and how He will get you through. Test Him on this.
This book isn’t a tell-all. She doesn’t seek to name names or “get even.” She does try to set the record straight in several instances – like “Troopergate,” accusations about her being a diva & the $150,000 wardrobe. As much as the interviews she gave would make you think she talked a lot about the Katie Couric interview, she really doesn’t give it that much space. She was highly complementary of her “B Team,” those assigned to the VP end of the ticket. Her critiques with the campaign mainly dealt with 1. her being kept from the press, especially the Alaska press. 2. Being overly scripted. 3. Leaks/rumors from within the campaign.
She was also disappointed on how the political environment changed when getting back to Alaska. The ethics reform act for the executive branch was something that was lauded by the Palin administration. There were real ethics breeches. There were people from the prior administration who were fined, and others who were on their way to prison. You get a sense of how ludicrous the misuse of the ethics act and FOIA requests became. Throughout the campaign and afterwards Palin also expresses her disappointment with the press who would often commit the “sin of omission.”
Going Rogue isn’t a policy book per se, as that wasn’t the sole purpose of the book, I disagree with those who say the book is policy light. You could see Governor Palin’s principles & priorities woven throughout the book as her belief in free market principles, small government, sanctity of life, and hard work were instilled from an early age. They were further developed throughout her life, and fleshed out in policies that she implemented as a member of Wasilla’s city council, as Wasilla’s mayor, an oil and gas regulator, and then as Governor of the State of Alaska.
You also see a common theme in her service as an executive. Cut spending, lower taxes, and put government on the side of the people instead of in their way. She accomplished much in the 2 1/2 years she served as Governor from ethics reform, budget cuts (before the recession when they didn’t have to), gasline development, forcing Big Oil to honor their leases to they would develop, restructuring taxes for oil and gas companies in order to encourage development and exploration, as well as, increased value to resource royalties that Alaskans received.
In the last chapter of the book she engages the theme of common sense conservatism, she describes it this way:
At it’s most basic level, conservatism is a respect for history and tradition, including traditional moral principles. I do not believe I am more moral, certainly no better, than anyone else, and conservatives who act “holier than thou” turn my stomach. So do some elite liberals. But I do believe in a few timeless and unchanging truths, and chief among those is that man is fallen. This world is not perfect, and politicians will never make it so. This, above all, is what informs my pragmatic approach to politics.
I am conservative because I deal with the world as it is – complicated and beautiful, tragic and hopeful. I am a conservative because I believe in the rights and the responsibilities and the inherent dignity of the individual….
…Conservatives believe in the “constrained” political vision because we know that human nature is flawed and that there are limitations to what can be done in Washington to “fix” society’s problems.
Commonsense Conservatives deal with human nature as it is – with its unavoidable weaknesses and its potential for goodness. We see the world as it is – imperfect but filled with beauty. We hope for the best. We believe people can change for the better, but we do not ignore history’s lessons and waste time chasing utopian pipe dreams, (pg. 385-386).
She harkens back to Ronald Reagan as a model we should look at as we proceed further – fiscal discipline, small government, strong national defense, traditional values, and energy independence. Things that she doesn’t just talk about, but has also lived out.
My respect for Governor Palin has been deepened as a result of reading this book, and I think that those who are undecided about her will come away with a positive opinion after reading this book. You will certainly finish the book being challenged and inspired “stand up and fight” for commonsense conservatism (unless you’re a liberal). I highly, highly recommend Going Rogue: An American Life.