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McCain/Palin Ticket: What if everything goes right?

By picking Alaska’s governor, Sarah Palin, as his running mate, McCain has regained maverick status and proved he is serious about being a fiscal conservative. He has chosen, as the Wall Street Journal editors call it, the “Reform Ticket.” Yes, the pick was certainly in part a political ploy to draw attention to a lackluster campaign and, yes, it is risky; but I think Palin, a maverick in her own right, was also picked for her achievements as a reformer, her libertarian leanings, and her irresistible American spirit.

Running on a reform ticket in 2006 is what got her elected as governor in Alaska. In a three-way race, Palin tromped the incumbent and won 51% of the vote. From what I can tell on the Alaskan political blogs, she does what she says she will do — a rare quality in any politician and one that could win over a lot of Independents to the McCain/Palin ticket.

This is a woman who when asked what she would do with the Governor’s jet if elected said:  “I will figure out the best way to get rid of it.” Then, after she was elected, she sold the jet for $2.1 million on eBay. She is refreshingly straightforward and seems determined to govern for the people. One person from her hometown described her as “the real deal.” She is serious about reducing government waste, cutting spending and fighting corruption. She is religious but appears to respect the wall separating church and state.

Even more than McCain, and certainly more than Obama or Biden, Palin is a rugged individualist (a moose hunter no less) who believes we need less government intervention into the lives of citizens. Palin seems to offer a common sense philosophy of the kind that helped Reagan sweep the election in 1980.

At least one political scientist, William Ruger, was rooting for her before McCain made his announcement. Her constituents believe in her, too. She holds the record of the highest approval rating of any governor in any state — 95 percent at one point.

No, she isn’t an Ivy Leaguer and she doesn’t (gasp!) have a law degree. She also has limited to no foreign policy experience, (although I did read she welcomed a visit from the Chinese Minister of Health, Qiang Gao, who came to observe and learn about rural health care models in Alaska). Needless to say, she has to be a quick study if she hasn’t studied history.

But American foreign policy has become so convoluted and unprincipled that perhaps an outsider with common sense and integrity is a good thing. Maybe we need someone who will approach foreign policy with principles, someone who will not get bogged down with the disparate details that leave most politicians in a state of cowardly paralysis — think NATO. Maybe we need someone willing to stand up to corruption wherever the trail leads. And maybe, just maybe, you don’t need a Harvard law degree to do the right thing.

If things go right for McCain and Palin, we may see the most free-market, pro-development, individualist administration we’ve seen in decades.

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