I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again — I like the Palins. My wife has worked with Sarah on two books, Bristol on one, and she edits Bristol’s widely-read blog on Patheos. Bristol is a former client of mine. I successfully defended her from a malicious lawsuit filed by a man who profanely accosted her in a public setting. The Palins have had their challenges, but they love this country, and both Sarah and Bristol have been tireless in attempting to influence our culture in often (for conservatives) unconventional ways — by injecting themselves directly not just into political debates but also into the liberal lion’s den of popular culture.
So I must confess that it’s a bit much to see the avalanche of conservative mockery and heckling directed at her for her endorsement of Donald Trump. I’m not saying she’s beyond criticism or that one should support Trump because of her endorsement (I haven’t made up my own mind yet, and I swing almost daily between Cruz and Rubio), but perhaps we should consider that the combination of her personal relationship with Trump, her personal experience suffering from years of the most vicious and personal attacks directed at any current or former politician in the United States, and her deep convictions regarding policy priorities for the next president have led her to this decision. In other words, she’s not simply hunting for headlines — she’s doing what she thinks is best for the country she loves.
And I understand her perspective. If Sarah believes Trump’s assurances about his pro-life views and newfound respect for the Second Amendment (and she has a closer relationship with him than anyone who’s attacking her), why wouldn’t she — of all people — find his “punch back twice as hard” disdain for political correctness appealing? And if she has long mixed her conservatism with a populist streak, it should shock exactly no one that Trump’s populism wouldn’t be a deal-breaker. She’s been a voice for the working-class Americans most neglected by both parties’ establishments — the very people who are filling arenas at Trump rallies across the land.
At the end of the day, we all make leaps of faith in supporting candidates. Conservative Rubio supporters, for example, are making a leap of faith in believing that he’s learned the right lessons from the Gang of Eight debacle and from the abject failure of the Libyan intervention. Cruz supporters are taking on faith that the relentless attacks on his honesty and Christian character are flat wrong — that he’s not the person so many people say he is. Some of us try to minimize the length of our leap by conferring with trusted friends, seeking “insider” information, and by studying political records and policy positions. Many others act on gut instincts and first impressions. Palin is asking voters to take a long leap of faith with Trump. She may be wrong, but I have no doubt that she’s asking in good faith.