Why is Sarah Palin saying she might leave the GOP?

Sarah Palin is no fan of immigration reform – at least, not since supporting it as a member of John McCain's presidential ticket in 2008. But the chances of her actually quitting the party over it? Remote.

Carolyn Kaster/AP/File
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (r. in red) signs a poster held by her husband, Todd Palin (l.), on behalf of a supporter during the Faith and Freedom Coalition Road to Majority 2013 conference in Washington last month. Ms. Palin, the conference's final speaker, rejected calls for an immigration overhaul that includes a path to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally.

Is Sarah Palin thinking about bolting the GOP to help found a new conservative US political party? That’s sure what it sounded like on Saturday when the subject arose in the course of a Fox News interview. Via Twitter, a viewer asked her if she’d consider creating a “Freedom Party” with right-leaning radio host Mark Levin. Her reply was that, yes indeed, maybe it’s time for a revolt.

If Republican leaders continue to “back away from the planks in our platform” and the principles on which the party of Lincoln and Reagan was founded, then rank-and-file Republicans with a “libertarian streak” might strike out on their own, Ms. Palin said.

“I love the name of that party, the ‘Freedom Party,’ ” said the ex-Alaska governor.

Palin has long had problems with mainstream D.C. Republicans – her complaints about “crony capitalism” seem directed at both parties – but the particular item that’s now got her going is the immigration reform bill, and the support of some Republicans, such as Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, for same.

On her Facebook page last week, Palin lamented Senate passage of the immigration “amnesty” measure and worried that the House might follow suit. She called it a “sad betrayal of working class Americans of every ethnicity who will see their wages lowered."

Republicans are rushing to appear more Hispanic-friendly, but it wasn’t lack of Hispanic supporters that kept Mitt Romney out of the White House, wrote Palin.

“It was the loss of working class voters in swing states that cost us the 2012 election, not the Hispanic vote,” she posted.

If the immigration reform bill becomes law, then both parties will have shown they are out-of-touch, arrogant, and dysfunctional, according to the former VP candidate. And if that’s the case, maybe it’s time to found a new party, she implied.

“Folks like me are barely hanging on to our enlistment papers in any political party,” Palin wrote.

Well, we’ve got a couple of thoughts here, unsurprisingly. The first is that, in this instance, it is way too easy to resort to a cheap “Going rogue?” segue or subhead. We won’t do it and anybody who does should be ashamed of themselves. Nor will we suggest “Mavericks” as a new party name. That’s already taken.

The second is that we doubt Palin will actually leave the GOP. She’s clearly more of a speechifier than an administrator, and she’ll get more Fox airtime with “GOP” as part of her tag line. Talking about dropping out is good, though – it brings attention.

Third is that she’s got a point there with the election analysis. An interesting recent series by RealClearPolitics senior analyst Sean Trende shows that the current conventional wisdom about the 2012 result, which emphasizes President Obama’s gains from black and Hispanic voters, is somewhat incorrect. The biggest reason Romney lost was a decline in white voters from 2008 to 2012, according to Mr. Trende’s analysis. And the missing white voters were generally downscale, rural Northern whites.

Supporting the passage of an immigration bill might help Republicans at the polls, or it might be good on its merits, but it isn’t a GOP must-do, Trende writes.

“It simply isn’t necessary for them to do so and remain a viable political force,” according to Trende.

Finally, yes, Sarah Palin was for immigration reform before she was against it. She supported something very like today’s bill as part of Sen. John McCain’s 2008 ticket.

But didn’t Mr. Obama used to oppose gay marriage? One person’s evolving position: It’s another person’s flip-flop.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.