One of my problems with the “Blame Sarah First” crowd that has scapegoated Sarah Palin for John McCain’s defeat is that they are targeting the only Republican who’s generated a strong grassroots following in recent memory. Name any other potential GOP presidential candidate for 2012 — Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Bobby Jindal — who has anything like Team Sarah:
Now, more than a month since the political spotlight has turned away from the failed GOP ticket and the running mate who rallied so many conservatives, some of those whom Palin drew to the political arena are seeking to keep a conversation going. This includes TeamSarah.org, a social networking site launched in September. . . .
TeamSarah.org — boasting more than 60,000 members and hoping to top 100,000 by Inauguration Day — was started in part by a mother of five, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, an antiabortion group that promotes the involvement of women in politics. She and Jane Abraham, chairwoman of the group’s board, started the site as a place for followers to network and promote Palin.
Team Sarah is the sort of spontaneous Tocquevillean activism that the conservative movement has been woefully lacking lately, and there is no other candidate for 2012 who has anything like it. Any Republican opponent of Palin would have to defeat this rapidly-growing grassroots army in order to take the nomination. And what, pray tell, is the political benefit to the GOP of extinguishing the only genuine enthusiasm in the party?
Sneer at “populism” all you want, David Brooks, but your argument is not with me, it’s with those thousands who stood in the cold Pennyslvania wind to see Sarah Palin.
(Cross-posted at The Other McCain.)