Wednesday, December 12, 2012
My Review of "America By Heart"
Sarah Palin wrote America By Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag, a collection and reflection on her view of America that is, in her words, “from my heart, and by my heart. I give it now to my children and grandchildren, and to yours, so they will always know what it was like in America when people were free.” Governor Palin dedicates the book to her son with down syndrome, Trig, and cites Thomas Paine, “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.” This quote captures the deep love of country that Palin portrays throughout this book.
We The People
The former Governor of Alaska recounts when she saw the different parts of the Soviet Union fall like dominoes. They had been told that it was the Soviet Union that had all kinds of rights, when in fact, this wasn’t so. Palin points out the hollowness of the Soviet document and highlights the strength of the U.S. Constitution through Reagan’s speech about the 200th anniversary with three simple words that set the U.S. Constitution apart from all others – We the People. The Soviets promised the moon, but in reality it was the government who had all the rights, not the people. The U.S. Constitution puts the people in charge with their God-given rights. Progressives, including our current President Barack Obama, view the Constitution as an obstacle, going as far as saying he wants to “fundamentally transform America.” Palin points out the irony of the term “progressive” when one views the history of America as President Coolidge refuted the progressive agenda in 1926. Furthermore, progressives and those on the left use name-calling tactics, such as “racist,” to damn their opponents and distract from the real issues at hand.
Why They Serve
Palin recounts September 11, 2007 when her son, Track, enlisted in the army and also the sacrifice that John McCain made while serving this exceptional country. Vietnam was a low point in America with regard to the reception of Veterans, a shadow of undermining the troops done so commonly in academia and Hollywood. America has been fought for by heroes, people whose names we will never know, every day people willing to fight for the freedom that America enjoys and we should honor and respect their sacrifice.
America the Exceptional
Palin details American exceptionalism from Tocqueville to today in spite of those on the left that call America just plain bad. There are many reasons to be proud of America because of the good we’ve done not only for Americans but for the world. President Obama believes that America should act just like an ordinary nation, not American exceptionalism, which is sad because American exceptionalism used to be a belief held on both sides of the aisle. We cannot forget that we are heirs of a hard fought revolution that brings us individual freedom and equality. One of the keys to American exceptionalism is the Tenth Amendment meaning “the best government is government that is closest to the people.” Obama’s stimulus bill package is a good example of bribing states to surrender their rights. Another danger we are facing today is the Europeanization of America losing our free markets and good old fashioned American hard work and ingenuity.
Raising (small-r) Republicans & The Rise of the Mama Grizzlies
Palin digs into the importance of a strong family unit refuting leftist feminism, citing the ups and the downs and how family has only been strengthened because of it. The rise of mama grizzlies, as Palin calls commonsense conservative women, getting involved is not a new phenomenon. Women have been fighting for freedom and American values since the founding of our country. One of Palin’s personal heroes, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, transformed Great Britain at a time when it seemed like nationalization was inevitably rampant and the Soviets were threatening the world. Thatcher was a woman to reckon with telling George H.W. Bush during the first Gulf War, “don’t go wobbly now, George.” Palin calls herself a conservative feminist who benefited from Title IX, and she lays out how women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony have stood up for women’s rights in the American Frontier.
Are We Really the Ones We’ve Been Waiting For?
Sarah Palin reflects on the lessons she has learned from her love of athletics. Particularly training for a marathon, mile by mile, alone, when you find out whom you are – your inner strength. This inner strength is substituted with empty praise by the culture. Booker T. Washington is an excellent example of how hard work pays off as he went from slavery to eventually founding the Tuskegee Institute to help educate newly freed African Americans in poor, rural communities. True happiness comes from hard work, not something that is just given to a person.
The Indispensable Support of Freedom & I Hear America Praying
The indispensable support of freedom is faith. Something that in Europe is private, but in America it is very much public. As Mitt Romney stated, “Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone.” Many of the Founding Fathers and leaders throughout American history very publicly stated that faith is an important pillar of freedom. The left is trying to get rid of God in any public sphere, while the majority of Americans publicly seek God. In fact, “under God” wasn’t added to the pledge until 1954 in a unanimous vote, which today is somehow divisive.
Our North Star
Palin looks at the “good” in our culture that is rooted in the truth of the great religious traditions of America. Americans want to be entertained, but they also want to do the right thing. Alcoholics Anonymous is a great example of how religious values have helped millions of Americans. The famous “Serenity Prayer” is one that Palin keeps in a devotional:
God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.
This is seen in the golden rule and is especially evidenced in a culture by how people treat those with special needs. Everyone has a natural desire to help others, but this can be changed if a culture is only focused on self. Everyone is battling something and everyone has a challenge, which Sarah says, “there’s no better place to experience it than in America.”
Conclusion Commonsense Constitutional Conservatism
Alaska has come a long way along with America to the problems we have today, and Palin is quick to admit that both parties are to blame. Without a doubt, we’re not succeeding in Washington. We’re losing the “hope” of America that President Obama promised during the 2008 campaign election. Palin’s brother shared this with her, “I’d rather have an army of sheep led by a lion than an army of lions led by a sheep.” We have a president that does not believe that America is an exceptional nation. The consequences of this view of our country are profound both here and abroad. This is evidenced especially overseas. We are seen as weak by other countries and at home, individuals are relying more and more on government for all their needs. America has been a force for good in this world, and to deny this is to deny the sacrifice of thousands of men and women who brought about this good. Reagan is remembered for many of his qualities: his communication skills, his principles, his optimism. But the greatest reason we love and admire Reagan is because he loved and admired us – the American people. He had boundless faith in the American people because he had boundless faith in the American idea. We have freedom held up with faith. We are still, as Reagan said, “the abiding alternative to tyranny.” We are still the shining city on a hill, a beacon for all who seek freedom and prosperity.
The question going forward, Palin asks, is how? How do we take this great awakening of the American people and reclaim our country? The answer is closer than many of us realize. We don’t need a manifesto. We don’t need a new party. We just need to honor what our country is and was meant to be. And we need to remember the common sense that most people are raised with. Sarah would proudly label herself as a “Commonsense Constitutional Conservative” who is also proud to register with the Republican Party because this party has a platform that is the strongest foundation upon which to build a great nation while protecting our God-given liberties. Some argue that we don’t have a two-party system, but that both Democrats and Republicans are the party of big government. If both are driving toward socialism, just at different rates, the conservative wants to turn the car around. They want to get back to the fundamental values of family, faith, and flag that are talked about in this book. Americans of all political persuasions are awakening to two sources of unity: our founding Charters of Liberty, and the virtues necessary to live up to them.
Maintaining a healthy republic requires a populace that adheres to those old-fashioned values of hard work, honesty, integrity, thrift, and courage. It is with family, the most localized form of government; faith, religion or the moral values transmitted in our secular culture; and flag, the understanding that we an exceptional nation with an exceptional message for the world. This unity comes from independent, commonsense Americans. It is about rediscovering our founding ideals and striving to be a nation that does justice to them. It is our responsibility to preserve and pass on those beliefs.
I would highly recommend Sarah Palin’s America By Heart based on the style, tone and content of the book. The style and tone are relatable and simple. Palin writes in a conversational tone that is complimentary to the audio version of the book which is read by the governor herself. Palin begins each chapter with personal or relatable examples of ideas that are central to America and then gives historical context and backs up her ideas with facts, not just opinions she came up with on her own. This is as an especially relevant book, given the state of America, and the need to turn back to America’s founding principles. Palin, much like Reagan, has excellent communication skills when speaking to average, every day Americans from all walks of life. Not only does she present her values, but she also refutes the arguments against her in a civil tone and without calling names or distracting from the actual issues. The content accurately captures Sarah Palin’s view of America through very personal experiences to the history of the founding and even outside perspectives of America, such as Alexis de Tocqueville, who all view America as being exceptional, a force for good in this world. Palin includes quotes from classic and contemporary texts that have moved and inspired her, as well as portraits of Americans, both famous and obscure, whom she admires. It is an excellent glimpse into the life of the first woman and youngest governor of the Frontier state, Alaska, who is also the first female to be chosen to run as vice-president on the Republican national ticket. This book provides insight into the worldview that has shaped her policies and superb style of reaching across the aisle without compromising fundamental principles but finding ways to make America better, achieving the honor of being the governor with the highest approval rating; in fact, it was at 93 percent at one point.
This book is personally inspiring for me, as Sarah Palin is one of the reasons I decided to switch my major from electrical engineering to political science. Her optimism and track record overcame my cynicism that I had with politicians and the lack of national leaders that shared not only my views, but actually lived them out. She rose to the national spotlight at a time when it seemed our country had turned to moderates and wobbly candidates not willing to stand for anything, but only willing to say what the polls and politicos advised them to stay so they could hold on to their power. No, Sarah Palin was definitely unconventional being from Alaska, a hockey mom, lifetime member of the NRA, pro-life with a son with down syndrome, a son in the army, a successful family-owned business of commercial fishing, a husband who boasted four national championships in snow machine racing, and that is only the tip of the iceberg that is Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. After reading the book, I was not surprised to find that many of her influences are also influences in my life. Not only is Sarah Palin a conservative rockstar, but she is also just another American woman fighting for a better future for her kids and their grandkids.
Palin’s positivity and go-get-‘em attitude is encouraging for me, especially after the results of the 2012 presidential election. Today, it seems like America has been fundamentally transformed, just as President Barack Obama promised he do back in 2008. Although this is a good book, the question becomes whether or not Palin’s optimism and determination will be enough to convince a populace that is looking toward the same Europe that our Founding Fathers fled. My hope and prayer is that Palin is right. I must be honest; I am an eternal optimist so I tend to agree with Palin, but there is a part of me that wonders if America has run the car off the cliff and we just waiting to see how hard the hit is when we get to the bottom.
One thing that I wasn’t too excited about at first, was that Palin included long quotes and excerpts from other people and not from herself. Then I realized this was the very essence she was trying to get across, that Americans need to go back to the original documents and read them. Too many Americans today, learn what to feel about an event or document in history instead of visiting it firsthand and forming their own opinion. In a sense I am guilty of this too, but as Palin’s book has inspired me, I am going to visit America’s founding documents and form my own opinions. Palin inspired me in another way. I am running my first marathon next year, something that I never dreamed I would do until I read her chapter on running and putting hard work in to achieve happiness and find your inner strength. May America, as Palin says throughout the book, find her inner strength and turn back to the principles and values she was founded upon.