On the 99th anniversary of the birth of Ronald Reagan, it seems that the torch may have been passed to the next icon to serve as the spokesperson of the Conservative movement in America: Gov. Sarah Palin. In her speech to the Tea Party gathering in Nashville, TN on the anniversary of Reagan’s birth, even I have to admit, she is the one person who has been able to rise above the fray to succeed Ronald Reagan as the next Conservative figure to lead the movement into its next phase.
Since President Reagan left office in 1989, while the Republicans held the White House for 12 of those years and made a comeback in 1994-2006 to regain control of Congress for the first time in over 40 years , conservatives have lacked one central figure with whom to point to as the person who could rally the faithful. President Bush, both 41 and 43 both campaigned with conservative messages, but governed very differently. Even members of Congress running as Republicans while claiming conservative credentials, proved to be less so when once confronted with the juggernaut that is the United States Congress. The conservative movement while reportedly floundering of late, is still viable, but in search of a leader around which they could all rally.
In her speech to a relatively small group, less than 1000 in Nashville, but to a larger audience through broadcasts on Fox News and C-SPAN, Gov. Palin seemed to hit all the right marks in her speech, much like Ronald Reagan did in 1964 to the Republican National Convention.
National security, fiscal responsibility, rights of individuals, and less government is best government were the major themes of Gov. Palin’s 45 minute keynote speech. She was interrupted several times with applause and standing ovations. Specific comments criticizing the current administration on issues from overreaching spending to their performance on the issues of national security met with the loudest and most enthusiastic reactions.
In the Q & A that followed, when asked about the prospect of the Tea Party movement evolving into a third-party, Gov. Palin was very clear that it was up to the two existing parties to absorb the Tea Partiers, suggesting very strongly that the GOP had the most to gain by doing so, and the most to lose by not.
With all this being said, at both the Nashville event and during an interview on Fox News Sunday, when questioned about any Presidential aspirations, she did not close the door, but yet, Sarah Palin stated that if it would be best for America and the Palin family then she would definitely consider it.
As Sarah Palin begins to lead the conservative movement, she may very well be the best person to do so at this time. She appeals to those conservatives who call for a strong national defense coupled with a fiscal policy that limits government. Those in the social conservative realm can identify with her stand opposing abortion and reinforcing the American family. Those who want lower taxes, less government regulation, and support the 2nd amendment can be comfortable with Sarah Palin as well.
Do I think Sarah Palin will run in 2012? I am not sure. But I do know that if the GOP recaptures control of Congress in 2010 and the Presidency in 2012, her role as a ‘uniter and not a divider’ of the conservative movement will put her in good standing; if or when she would ever decide to run for the Presidency. Remember, Ronald Reagan started out as Governor of California in the 1960’s and remained a popular and recurrent spokesperson for the conservative movement throughout the 1970’s before being elected to the Presidency in 1980. Sarah Palin is a relatively young woman. Her time spent now in crafting a conservative message that is palatable to all segments as well as her help to merge the Tea Party movement into the mainstream of the Republican party will no doubt be a good thing for her personally, but could benefit the future of our nation as well.