A few Friday nights ago, David Brooks no doubt scored serious points with NewsHour listeners when he said, “Every second we spend talking about Sarah Palin is a second of our lives we’ll never get back.”

Catchy soundbite, but he was wrong.

We need to talk more about what her parochial, nostalgic, oddly vague and exclusionary worldview means for not just our national politics, but education reform.

Palinism the ideology—a set of conservative political beliefs that rests upon a parochial, nostalgic, vague, exclusionary interpretation of U.S. history—is far more pernicious than her easy to make fun of media personality.

Palinism is a litmus test. If we continue to think of students first and foremost as future workers and consumers, and not citizens, its influence will spread and some of its adherents will win elections. Absent a nuanced sense of our nation’s unblemished history and an appreciation for what a vibrant democracy requires of its citizens, our young people will increasingly opt for glossy, symbolic style at the expense of gritty, grounded substance.

Recently, just for David Brooks and you, I sacrificed 197 seconds of my life watching SarahPac, a brilliant marketing video of Sarah’s bus tour of the U.S. Actually, now I’ve sacrificed over 15 minutes since I’ve watched it five times.

It’s fascinating on several levels. Exercise your citizenship and watch it.

Notice the following:

• In the midst of the hundreds of people that appear in the commercial, there’s one black veteran. Palinism borrows from a recent Modern Family sketch, “White is right.”

• The phrases “restore what’s right,” “restore the good,” and “we need a fundamental restoration” repeat throughout.

• “Founding” and “foundation” also repeat throughout. It’s like a news station repeating the phrase “fair and balanced” over and over. Maybe, if the populace is half asleep, hypnosis works.

• Painfully vague catch phrases are sprinkled throughout including, “be in touch with our nation’s history,” “so we can learn from it,” “move forward,” “all that is good about America,” “effect positive change,” and “America is the exceptional nation.” The classic hallmark of a really bad first year college essay.

Absent a critical nuanced understanding of U.S. history, government, and foreign policy, the videos sophisticated mix of traditional American symbols, music, and vague repetitive narrative would probably work wonders on large percentages of today’s secondary school students.

An older woman near the end gushes about Palin’s “courage and strength” and concludes, “she has it all.”

If we continue to preach the math and science gospel and mindlessly apply business principles to schooling, our youth might conclude the next Sarah Palin and the one after her have it all.

In which case Palin’s videographers might just win the battle of ideas.


Man I’m glad Sarah Palin gave up her boring chief executive gig and took to the road and airwaves. I’m going rogue in the Iowa cornfields right now, working with a small college faculty. As a part of my work, I’m giving a lecture. I turned to SP for inspiration and she did not disappoint. Here are the demands I laid down on my hosts. Pay especially close attention if you would like me to speak to your group.

1A) I must have time to run each day, 1B) the humidity can’t be above 80%, 1C) I must have Norman Rockwell-like views of cornfields at all times, and 1D) there must be a black Australian labradoodle to lick my sweaty face post-run. 2) I must have a widescreen t.v. with ESPN in multiple languages. 3) By dawn, a copy of the New York Times must be delivered to my room, preferably on a new iPad. 4) My rental car must be of German origins and come equipped with a radar dector. 5) When I enter the lecture hall, Beautiful Day by U2 must be playing. 6A) Audience members must at least feign interest throughout my talk. 6B) Security must respond swiftly and forcefully to any and all hecklers. 7) My prewritten questions to myself must be given to individual audience members in advance and appear to be their own. Eight) The post-lecture applause must be deemed rousing and heartfelt for me to stay after and sign programs. 9) I must only be served locally grown food and microbrews. Last but definitely not least, 10) My bedding must consist of a E. S. Kluft Beyond Luxury Sublime mattress, 1500 thread count Egyptian Cotton sheets, a Siberian Goose luxury down comforter, and a soft Batiste 800 Fill Power European White Goose Down Pillow.

Religion and Politics

History suggests you can’t get elected to high office in the U.S. without at least marketing yourself as a practicing Christian. Yet, once elected, Christian principles often take a backseat to Realpolitik. Why do Christian constituents seemingly give a pass to faux politicians like Sarah Palin for subverting the “turn the other cheek” challenge of the gospel by advocating for “a punch for a punch” on children’s playgrounds? Much more importantly, why do Christian constituents give a pass to real live politicians like Barack Obama for greatly increasing the use of drones to kill people in Afghanistan?