NOTE: The following post was written as an introductory post at the launch of the website Palin4America. Much of what’s written here is not relevant to this site. As this website also serves as an archive for all the posts I have written on various websites, I re-post it here for archive purposes.
A couple of weeks ago, I was on vacation in Florida. One day I stopped into a little restaurant and hit it off with the owner. Our conversation turned to politics. Every time I talk to someone about politics, Governor Palin inevitably comes up. The person I spoke to was not a Palin supporter; his opinion of the Governor was pretty much everything the media has been planting in his head for the past three years.
I told him to challenge me on anything Palin and he didn’t hold back. He asked me about where she stands on the issues, the made-up media lies, even her mental status. I’ll admit that at some points I wanted to slap him in the face just for being so ignorant, but I held my cool and answered all the questions calmly. I recited her record as Governor and elaborated on where she stands on the issues. It turned out that he stood with her on pretty much every issue, and he was quite surprised at this revelation.
I won’t say that by the end of the conversation I had turned him into a Palin supporter, but at least I convinced him to do his own research. I jotted down on a piece of paper a list of various Palin support sites where he could familiarize himself with the true facts about Governor Palin.
As I was about to leave he turned to me and asked me; “If all that is true, and she has such an impressive record, and all these scandalous stories are lies, how come you know about it and I’ve never heard any of this?”
My natural instinct was to respond “because you’re ignorant; you trust the media and don’t do your own homework.” But I wasn’t going to ruin a chance at bringing on a new supporter by taking a cheap shot. I just turned around and said, “Don’t worry; just wait until her campaign begins and you’ll know everything”.
When I walked out of the restaurant, his question kept bugging me. True, the media did a number on Governor Palin. But with so many Palin support sites and so many defenders, why isn’t the message getting across?
I was on vacation and about to make my way to one of the Disney parks, so I pushed the thought to a corner of my mind and went to get me some magic.
When I got back to my hotel, President Obama had just completed his “job creation” speech. I caught Frank Luntz and his focus group analyzing the speech afterward.
In his group, Luntz had 50% Obama voters and 50% McCain voters. I was astonished how everyone in that group, including the democrats, were not impressed with the president’s speech to the point where the majority of his supporters said that they can no longer defend him.
It got better. As Luntz asked them what they think needs to be done, the majority responded with solutions that Governor Palin has been pushing for over three years. They could have been quoting a Palin interview:
Watch the video.
It’s a safe bet that the majority of those people don’t support Governor Palin and they probably have no clue that what they said they wanted is exactly what she is selling. The question I had when I walked out of the restaurant came back to me: why not?
A while back in a post titled The Polarization of Sarah Palin, I noted that the majority of Americans stand for and believe in the same issues that Governor Palin does, they just don’t know it. True, the media twists, spins and lies about Governor Palin, but with so many Pro-Palin support sites, so many tweets defending her and an overwhelming selection of Facebook posts, her true record should at least drip out a little. Our combined efforts should bear some fruit.
Then it came to me.
When it comes to supporting Governor Palin, there are two groups. You have the “supporters” and you have the “fans.” The “supporters” are those who support her for her record, agree with her principles, admire her accomplishments and believe that as America’s leader she would do the right thing to protect, defend and advance the nation.
Her supporters also get that Governor Palin is human. Like the rest of us, she’s not perfect. She can make mistakes and does. They don’t agree with her on everything and are not always happy with some of her actions. They sometimes get frustrated, and when they do, they release their frustrations with a tweet or a comment on a blog and move on.
Then there are the fans!
To her fans, Governor Palin can do no wrong. She can make no mistake and every word she utters is as if delivered by Moses from Mount Sinai. To her fans, you can’t question her judgment, because Palin knows exactly what she’s doing all the time every time. Her hair is always gorgeous, her lipstick is always perfect and she can never utter a wrong word or misspeak. If one of her opponents had said or done something, they would have gone after them pretty hard; if Governor Palin does or says it, it’s genius. You don’t dare question it. Those are, quite frankly, the cultists.
It is those fans that are hijacking the Palin support sites.
When a non-Palin supporter sitting on the fence, finally decides to do some of their own research on Governor Palin’s record and visits a Palin support site, what do they see? They get a picture of how Governor Palin is pitch perfect, she can do no wrong, and even if she did err, her fans will spin it and twist it to defend her. Governor Palin will always be right no matter what.
If this person dares to post a legitimate question in the comments, they’ll be labeled as a troll, a trouble maker or will just receive a general response of “we don’t question her over here.” Such a person doesn’t stick around long; in short order they pack their bags and get out of there. “This crap is not for me” is the nicer part of their thoughts.
What did we accomplish? By not answering their questions and avoiding a constructive debate we lost a potential supporter.
When a journalist hears about a new rumor and decides to check out what the Palin support sites have to say, what do they see? One post after another of fan fare. They may see some constructive articles, but the majority of the posts are about how Governor Palin is “the one,” sent from Heaven, Joan of Arc, etc… Such a reporter walks away thinking, “these people are nuts.” They might come up with a lot of terms to describe us, but serious is not one of them.
You can be a staunch supporter of Governor Palin, you could have dedicated your life to her and spent you savings defending her, but have a day that you feel slightly frustrated or have a legitimate concern, say one thing that the fans don’t like and you’re a traitor, a troll, or the new term; “you’re a Frank Bailey.”
You can have a track record of always defending and supporting Governor Palin, but just write one column pointing out something you disagree with her on, and you’re a defector, even if your intentions are truly noble.
All this supporter wanted was some encouragement or to tell Governor Palin something they thought she should know, and what they get is a kick in the butt. Another supporter lost.
And what about supporters of opposing candidates? Sometimes there are those who, while they support a particular candidate, are still shopping around. But when Governor Palin gives an acclaimed speech and the opposing candidate’s supporter visits a Palin support site, often what they see is a string of posts attacking their own candidate. If those attacks are on substance, that’s one thing, but sometimes the attacks are so personal it turns off the person before they even bother researching Governor Palin. The person takes it personally. Not only will they not support Governor Palin, they actually start hating her to a point that if Palin won the nomination, they might just stay home. (Examples here, here and here)
Finally, if you visit a Palin support site, often all you see is how rosy and how perfect everything is. So when Palin visits those sites she gets the impression that her supporters get it, her supporters understand, and her supporters are happy; it’s just the liberal media who don’t get it. If your supporters are happy, why change course? When there is an increase in frustration, Governor Palin would never know it because no one will tell out of fear of being labeled a troll.
Friends tell friends what they need to hear, not what they think their friend wants to hear. A large chunk of her supporters are frustrated, they are tired and exhausted. They can handle the left, it’s the fans that are killing them.
Now I understand the knee jerk reaction of those fans. After all, Governor Palin has been so attacked and trashed for so long, it has reached a point where paranoia has kicked in and zero tolerance is the rule. Say something remotely critical and boom, you’re out of here. The Palin fan structure knows well how to go to bat and defend Palin, which is often great, but not when it gets to the point where they’re knee-jerk reacting without thinking things through.
That’s not to say that being a fan is wrong, but if you just want a fan site to make yourself feel good or to make Governor Palin feel good, that’s nice, but that won’t get her elected President.
To get Governor Palin elected she will need a lot of support and not just from her fans. Support means votes, every single one she can get. And it’s not going to be easy. The fact that she has been so trashed by the media makes it all that much harder for her. We can’t afford to lose a single vote, and we need to reach out to as many new supporters as possible.
Palin4America is designed to tackle these challenges.
When a non-supporter sitting on the fence, visits this site, we will allow them to question us, challenge us, and we will respond to their questions to the best of our abilities. Commentators will be encouraged to answer those challenges and welcome those non-supporters. Just because you know the answers doesn’t mean they know. We won’t attack people for asking questions and we will do our best to respond to them factually and accurately. When we don’t know the answer, we will say so and offer them to research the answer and get back to them.
Our aim is to encourage others to support her, answer their questions and get them to join the team. Rather than pushing away potential supporters, we’ll educate them and welcome them in.
Of course we’ll keep our eyes open for people who are popping in just to cause trouble, but we will give the benefit of the doubt. The rule of innocent until proven guilty applies.
When media personnel check out this site, hopefully they will see rational supporters with their feet on the ground, not kooks who follow blindly. Obviously we are supporters of Governor Palin and somewhat biased in her favor, but we mean business and we are serious. When we disagree with the Governor we will say so, and when a rumor or false accusation about the Governor is spread, hopefully they’ll feel they can trust us because we are always candid.
In fact, we have invited a number of media personalities and journalists to come over and post comments and questions under an alias, to prove to them that we are not cultists . We won’t know what their user names are or when they will appear. Together we will educate them and others. We’ll build supporters and friends in the media one at a time.
When a supporter has a bad day and releases their frustration, we won’t attack them. Sometimes people just need to talk, we’ll listen.
When a supporter feels like giving Governor Palin some advice or constructive criticism, we’ll allow them to do so. Advice never hurt anyone. Governor Palin is a smart women and she can decide whether the advice is something she wants to take or not. But at least Governor Palin will know that there is a place where people are not afraid to give their opinions and offer free advice. We believe she deserves to know what we really think.
We fully support Governor Palin, we will defend her and fight back smears. But we will not berate her supporters for having legitimate concerns. Governor Palin may know what her plans are and what she is up to, but her supporters don’t. People in the dark usually have doubts and questions.
We will point out the differences between Governor Palin’s record and those of her opponents. We will point out inaccuracies, inconsistencies and hypocrisies by her opponents but only when and where it can help Governor Palin. We will not attack them simply because we don’t like them. Supporters of other candidates expect this during the primary season, but we won’t go after candidates in a way that will leave a bad taste in their mouth. If Governor Palin wins the nomination we will want all the supporters of those other candidates to throw their full support behind her. Our object is to keep resentment to a minimum. We don’t want to make it tough for them to transfer their support. In the general we’ll need to pull together.
When a usual Palin hater says something positive about the Governor, we will credit them appropriately; hopefully it will encourage them to so so again.
When the media gets a fact wrong we will contact them, provide the true facts and ask them to retract. We’ll give them a chance to correct the error before going on a public assault.
When we think there is something Governor Palin needs or should know, we will tell her. It may not always be rosy, but we’ll tell her. When we disagree with her, we will do so respectfully. Governor Palin likes honesty and candidness; let her know that there is one place where we will speak truth to power.
Governor Palin may not need our suggestions, but we will offer them anyway. It’s up to her to decide whether she wants to heed that advice. We will not be disappointed if she doesn’t and we won’t brag if she does (okay, we might brag a little). We are here to help in any way possible. We may not always get it right, but we sure will try.
If we want independents and non-supporters, and even the media, to take Palin and her supporters seriously we need to be welcoming, factual and candid. We need to get our message across and expand the base.
We encourage all commentators to follow these guidelines and welcome debate. Attacking another visitor simply because you don’t like the question will not be tolerated. Together we’ll grow support one at a time.
Our goal is simple: to expand and grow Governor Palin’s base, attract more and more supporters and show them that while we are staunch supporters of Governor Palin, we’re realists and objective. Get them to trust us and take us seriously. We’ll do everything we can to get the majority of Americans to join our cause. No one says it’s going to be easy, but if we unite and work together, we will make a difference.
Governor Palin is selling what Americans want to buy; we’re hanging up the “open for business” sign today.