Politico’s Dylan Byers says it’s “The end of the Sarah Palin era.” He cites a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Annenberg poll showing that a slight majority of Americans (54 percent) wish Palin would be less outspoken about political issues. While I haven’t agreed with almost anything Palin has said since she was nominated for Vice President in 2008, I think it would be a shame if she stopped speaking out, and not just because she provides endless blogger fodder.
I would miss Sarah Palin because she defies all stereotypes and ideas of “appropriate” behavior for women in politics. Since she got out from under the yoke of an expensive stylist hired for her during the 2008 elections, Palin does not wear the careful, colorful sheath dresses or dignified suits that other female politicos wear. She wears Superman T-shirts and clunky heels and cowboy boots and formfitting dresses, and I, for one, appreciate the variety.
She doesn’t talk like other women in politics either. She melds her motherhood with a deep aggression—her mama grizzly mode—that has created an entirely new archetype of political woman. Palin paved the way for “extreme supermom” Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who writes fiery political speeches with her 2-year-old daughter on her lap. Palin never feels the need to tamp down her anger and she’s often snide. She destroys the stereotype that mothers in politics need to be perfect angels, lest they be judged too harshly by the public.
In a piece about why other women should challenge Hillary Clinton for the presidential nomination, Rebecca Traister wrote, “we’re in a tricky, potentially explosive stage: bursting with ideas about how to normalize the concept of women in power, but still constrained by a system that politically, economically, and culturally remains dominated by white men.” Part of what will move us past this stage is having all different kinds of political women in the public eye. Love her or hate her, Sarah Palin is sui generis.
I’m not saying I want Sarah Palin to run for office again, and certainly not for national office (though some Democrats think any Palin campaign would be a huge fund-raising boon for her opposition). But I would be sad if she just went away. She told the Hollywood Reporter on Monday that she’d be interested in a talk show gig. “I hear everyone recently got canned from The View, maybe a show like that needs a punch of reality and a voice of reason from America’s heartland to knock some humble sense into their scripts. You know, someone willing to go rogue.” ABC execs, I hope you’re listening, because Palin on The View would be a completely delightful disaster.