Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Sarah Palin is extremely popular. No, make that crazy, wait-in-line-all-day-and-all-night popular.
The former Alaskan governor and GOP vice presidential candidate was in Richland on Sunday autographing her new book, "Going Rogue." The event at Hastings drew an estimated 2,300 people. Some waited 26 hours for her signature on the book.
About 300 people were turned away when the three-hour session (scheduled for two hours) was ended. Yet, even those folks who didn't get her autograph remained enamored with Palin.
"She stands for everything that America was built on," Stacey Coordes of Pasco told a Seattle Times reporter covering the event.
That was apparently the sentiment of those who embraced Palin's conservative political views. And many in the crowd were extremely protective of Palin, feeling that she was unfairly victimized by media's liberal bias.
Seattle Times reporter Erik Lacitis was told that so many came to see Palin because she shares their values. And those values are something that many in Western Washington, particularly Seattle, don't seem to understand, they said.
"She stands for what we stand for, which is greatly lacking in Seattle ... Only in Seattle can you come up with a government that has the idea that they know how to do everything," said Debi Danielson of Yakima.
"The state should be chopped in half," added her husband, Dale, referring to Eastside/Westside politics.
Politicians on both sides of Washington state -- and, frankly, in the other Washington across the country -- should take notice. If these 2,300 people feel this way, there are millions more around the nation who feel the same way. And some of those conservatives live in Western Washington, just as some liberals live east of the Cascades.
But right now this state's government is run by Democrats, many of them left of center. Not only is the governor a Democrat but the House and Senate have large Democratic majorities. And because the Democrats have such a lock on power, Republicans and even some moderate Democrats don't have a voice.
This is extremely frustrating to the Republicans in office and to those they represent -- or, to be precise, are not allowed to represent.
It's that frustration that was on display in the Tri-Cities. It's that frustration that's building, and not just in Eastern Washington. Political moderates, too, are feeling frustrated with a perceived liberal dominance of government.
Those in line Sunday were after more than an autograph. They are looking for someone to speak for them. Right now, Palin has the attention of the nation so she's it.
Her popularity might not hold until 2012, but the feeling of being disenfranchised is likely to linger if those in control don't give those in the center and the right of center a voice.