Sarah Palin, newly rehired as a commentator on cable's Fox News Channel, is wasting no time going after elements of the Republican party she disagrees with. On Saturday morning, she stated her displeasure with the current direction of the Republican Party and suggested that if it continues to "back away from the planks in our platform, from the principles that built this party of Lincoln and Reagan," she and others like her may have to declare independence from the "private majority parties" and register as neither Democrat nor Republican.
Palin's comments came after a question from Josh Painter, editor of The Sarah Palin Journal and longtime contributor to Texans for Sarah Palin. Painter asked via Twitter, "Would you & Mark Levin be willing to build a 'Freedom Party' if GOP continues to ignore conservatives?"
Palin replied that she liked the name, and that she'd be open to the idea. She continued:
And if the GOP continues to back away from the planks in our platform, from the principles that built this party of Lincoln and Reagan, then yeah, more and more of us are going to start saying, 'You know, what's wrong with being independent,' kind of with that libertarian streak that much of us have.
In other words, we want government to back off and not infringe upon our rights. I think there will be a lot of us who start saying 'GOP, if you abandon us, we have nowhere else to go except to become more independent and not enlisted in a one or the other private majority parties that rule in our nation, either a Democrat or a Republican.'
Remember these are private parties, and you know, no one forces us to be enlisted in either party.
No matter what Palin means by emphasising that the nation's major political parties are "private" (does it imply that there should be "public" parties?), she and like-minded voters may have plenty of support in Alaska to "enlist" somewhere else.
For years now, the Alaska Republican Party has undergone leadership conflict, at times heated, as Tea Party and religious conservatives and Ron Paul supporters have joined against the more centrist and progressive conservatives in the party. The conflict is not entirely resolved even though major skirmishing seems to have subsided.
Because the Alaska Republican Party holds closed primary elections, only people registered with the party, or as unaffiliated voters are eligible to vote in them. So if disaffected voters in Alaska take Palin's advice and register with another party or, if it ever exists, for the Freedom Party, they will have no say in the candidates of the most influential political party in Alaska.
Perhaps such an exodus would even make Alaska Republicans even better suited to win statewide general elections in Alaska, whose largest voting bloc, by far, is "Undeclared" and "Nonpartisan." The last U.S. Senate candidate produced by the internally conflicted Alaska GOP was Joe Miller, who ended up losing to the incumbent Lisa Murkowski, who ran a write-in campaign after losing to Miller in the primary.
With Miller again making moves toward running for senate in 2014, and current Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, generally considered more moderate, already having declared to vie for Democrat Sen. Mark Begich's seat, the next GOP Senate primary could turn out to be a repeat of 2010's ideological show-down.
But then again, in April Miller wrote:
I have been a Republican for most of my adult life. But I am under no illusions about the Republican Establishment's failure to confront the problems facing the country. The status quo is not a viable option.
Let's be honest. The partisan frame of reference is outmoded. We now live under a duopoly which serves corporate and special interests, rather than the interests of the individual citizen. It's the insiders versus the outsiders.
While many in my party prattle on and on about their desperate desire to "defeat Mark Begich," that is not my singular object. Yes, Mark Begich is part of the problem in Washington. But for me, the 2014 election is not merely about beating Mark Begich. It's about saving the country!
Maybe Miller will end up as the brand-new Freedom Party's first U.S. Senate candidate.
Contact Scott Woodham at swoodham(at)alaskadispatch.com