Guest Submission by Sam Norton
As a warm-up to reading this article, please make yourself comfortable and then look around yourself. Is there anything that you can see that was not first imagined in somebody’s mind?
The imagination is a powerful thing – far more powerful than it is often given credit for. What I would like you to do is imagine the context within which it might make sense for Sarah Palin to agree to run for the Presidency of the United States as a third candidate. I have a suspicion that the more we imagine it, the more concrete a possibility it will become.
So imagine this:
- by the summer of 2012 the general economic condition continues to be chronically poor – a depression in all but name. Unemployment moves significantly past the 10% line. A succession of financial crises has been met by a continued resort to crony capitalism by the Obama administration. This is widely perceived to be both corrupt and a failure. The Occupy Wall Street process has begun to gain the tacit support of a majority of the population;
- Obama begins to be blamed personally for all the handouts to the financial institutions and ‘crony capitalism’ becomes the dominant political theme. Obama consistently polls in the low 30% range;
- by the late Spring of 2012 Mitt Romney has consolidated his hold on the GOP nomination. However, his support in polling against Obama isn’t enough to give confidence that he would win a general election as conservatives have turned off the process in droves. In an interview Romney indicates that ‘there are ways in which Obamacare can be reformed without being repealed’;
- polls show that most voters remain unpersuaded and unconvinced of the merits of either Romney or Obama, with a plurality wanting ‘none of the above’. Meanwhile, Sarah Palin has continued to campaign actively for conservative candidates and has won respect from across different elements of the political spectrum for not being ‘bought’ and retaining her independence (many more people, especially on the left, have now seen ‘The Undefeated’). Many candidates – including a small number of Democrats – seek and gain her endorsement in their own individual campaigns.
It seems to me that for Sarah Palin to be willing to run as a third candidate certain criteria have to be met. She would have to be persuaded either that Obama was not beatable by the GOP candidate or that the GOP candidate, if elected, would not represent a significant change – just a change of suit – from Obama. She would also need to be persuaded, of course, that a third candidate attempt could win outright and not simply make it easier for Obama to retain the presidency. Those criteria would take an exceptional set of circumstances coming together in order to be met – but my suggestions above are not completely implausible for one scenario, and I’m sure there are others.
If you share my view that we are moving into largely uncharted territory, and things that were once unthinkable are becoming likely, then let us also imagine some possible positive outcomes – and start to plan accordingly.