In her best-selling book, America By Heart, Governor Palin tells how the portrait of Jefferson Smith from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was given to her and how it still hangs on the wall of her office in Wasilla. It doesn’t take much to see why the Frank Capra classic is one of Gov. Palin’s favorite movies. Stephen K. Bannon, while interviewed about his documentary, The Undefeated states, “In Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Frank Capra presents an idealist, a common man who comes across a corrupt political class in Washington, D.C. In fact, The Undefeated is Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, but with much higher stakes — a person who comes from total obscurity without a rich father or a rich husband, without any political contacts, without an Ivy League education or any of the things people usually have before they jump into politics.”
The story of an obscure idealist fighting against a permanent and corrupt political class is nothing new. In the ancient world, the prophet Amos was such a person. Amos was an ordinary man by any estimation. He came from among the shepherds of Tekoa, a village 12 miles south of Jerusalem. Since he was not from a large cosmopolitan city like Jerusalem or Samaria, Amos, shaped by his rural experiences, had a clearer perspective of the evils that he saw as he walked through the cities of Israel. He spoke out against greed, high taxes, and the use of false weights and measures. To be sure Amos foretold events in the future, but his primary objective was to expose the corruption and bring the Israelites the message that they must turn from the lies and graft and return to the path God had set for them.
Of course, Amos faced opposition from the establishment for his anti-establishment message. What was even more galling than the idea that he was an outsider was the fact that Amos used history to prove his point. The Israelites felt that because they had been chosen by God that they were special and could do as they pleased, literally ‘get away with murder’. By recalling the history of the nation, Amos points out that the Israelites are indeed special but rather than giving them carte blanche to do as they pleased they have a special and sacred responsibility to God. For Amos, God speaks in the present through the remembrance of the events of a sacred past. And if they forget the past events, the plagues, the lost battles, the divisions, they will live by the consequences. Amos didn’t mince words. His message was harsh and it made the Israelites uncomfortable to say the least. Most uncomfortable of all seemed to be Amaziah, a professional priest who is quite undoubtedly on the government payroll. In Amaziah’s estimation, something had to be done about Amos and his words of judgment against Israel. So Amaziah embarked upon a three-pronged strategy to eliminate the prophet from Tekoa.
The first attack came through misrepresentation. This is a favorite tactic in political campaigns. You take the position of the opponent and you misrepresent it or “spin” it tohis disadvantage. In the previous section, Amos has said that God “will rise with the sword against the house of Jeroboam” (7:9). The house of Jeroboam. Not Jeroboam himself. But Amaziah can’t resist a little parsing of the quote. “Jeroboam shall die by the sword.” Very close to the original, but like a three-dollar bill, a clever counterfeit. Amaziah makes the “spin” more believable by adding to it something that Amos did say:that “Israel surely shall be led away captive from their own land.” Amos prophesied this in 5:27 and in 6:7. So, how do you misrepresent and “spin”? You take a little bit of truth and mix it with a half-truth and you pitch it in a way that makes it a complete lie.
The second attack comes from temptation. Amaziah attacks Amos’ motives for serving God. Go and flee imply that an unpleasant fate would await Amos should he remain in Israel. Amos would have been tempted to abandon his calling in order to save his skin from the wrath and power of the king of Israel. Personal safety would trump obedience. Furthermore, by fleeing to the land of Judah, Amaziah implies that Amos would find a much more receptive audience to his message of judgment on Israel. The temptation of success andsecurity lurks behind these words – the kind of success that he evidently was not having in Bethel. Surely Amos would have a much easier time of it and earn a lot more dough (to buy bread with!) if he went home. Boice puts it this way: “Since Amaziah was in the religiousbusiness for money, he assumes that Amos is in it for money too and tells him (as one professional to another) that he will do far better in his own land if he wants to preach against Israel.”
The third attack comes as a confrontation with authority. Seeing that Amos hasn’t been defeated by spin or self-interest, Amaziah dons the full mantle of his ecclesiastical authority as the Grand Poobah of Bethel and proclaims in self-righteous tones that Amos is no longer welcome here! Who does Amos think he is? He is like the little guy fighting City Hall. And so Amaziah calls upon the royal guard to give Amos the old heave-ho.
Amaziah has done all he can to silence the prophet from Tekoa, but he has been unsuccessful. Amos gets in the last word. Amos first defends himself against Amaziah’s opposition by revealing his own origins. Amaziah has presumed that Amos was a professional prophet, in it for the money. Amos had probably just blundered into Bethel accidentally – after all, it wasn’t far across the border and you didn’t need a passport in those days! All Amos had to do was turn around, go back to Judah, and success was assured. Amos quickly blows a hole through that theory. Not only is Amos not a professional prophet, there are no prophets in the family. Amos is not in this business for the money. He is not for sale.
The Lord took Amos as he was going about his daily business of working with the sheep. Amos was going in one direction in his life, and then the Lord stepped in, intervened, and changed the course of Amos’ life forever. Amos wasn’t looking for this whole prophet-gig thing. It was thefarthest thing from his mind. But when the Lord “takes” you, you don’t say no. God took hold of Amos and told him to “Go, prophesy to My people Israel.” That was it. Amos heard the word of God, and Amos obeyed the word of God. Amos was in Bethel because that was where God wanted him to be. You see, Amos had been touched by someone with more authority than Amaziah and Jeroboam could ever bring to bear.
Like Amos, Governor Palin has too risen from humble origins. She doesn’t come from a moneyed family. She was raised in the last frontier, Alaska not in a big metropolis like Chicago or New York. She doesn’t come from a long line of political leaders. Her family doesn’t boast a political dynasty. She is not part of the ruling elite. The SarahPAC web site tells this of Palin’s early life, “Governor Palin moved to Alaska with her family at the age of three months, when her father took a teaching position in Skagway, Alaska, before eventually settling in Wasilla. A graduate of Wasilla High School, Governor Palin was the co-captain and point guard of Wasilla’s 1982 state championship women’s basketball team. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in communications-journalism from the University of Idaho in 1987.”
Since her entrance on the national political stage in 2008, much has been done to discredit Governor Palin. Her words and actions have been misrepresented more times that I can count. From something seemingly as inocuous as misconstruing a statement about seeing Russia from Alaska to something more sinister like twisting her use of crosshairs on a map of congressional seats during an election season to be a call to assasinate elected officials. During an interview with Brad Jackson and Ben Domenech , The Quotable Rogue author Matt Lewis makes the following observation, “you know, no modern figure has had their words misrepresented more than Sarah Palin. And this is something I’m interested in. It has happened to other people and it can be very devastating. You know, Jimmy Carter never said the word “malaise” and yet that came to define him. Al Gore never said he invented the Internet. Marie Antoinette never said, “Let them eat cake”. And Sarah Palin never said, “I can see Russia from my front yard.”” Despite the fact that Governor Palin is not in political office at this time and is not seeking the GOP nomination for the 2012 Presidential Election, misinformation about her continues to be thrust into the spotlight by the mainstream media. This is evident in the recent interview on ABC of Congresswoman Gabriell Giffords by Diane Sawyer. Sawyer just can’t resist injecting the mistaken idea that Gov. Palin and the Tea Party are responsible for Jared Loughner’s violent actions.
To further discredit Governor Palin, the establishment questions her authority or relevancy. Now that Governor Palin is not seeking the GOP nomination, all of the politicos and pundits have written her off as ‘irrelevant’. Judson Phillips writing for the Tea Party Nation believes Sarah Palin will nearly become irrelevant as a mover and shaker in Conservative politics after her announcement that she is not seeking the GOP nomination for President. David Frum states, “Sarah Palin’s political voice had dwindled well before she announced her decision not to run. Now it will sink altogether into inaudibility. She will be no kind of force in future national discussions. She will have no sway over party debates.”
Do any of the establishment’s approaches to stopping Governor Palin work? Certainly not. Like Amos of ancient Israel, Governor Palin knows ultimately she is beholden to no one save for God. Governor Palin will not let the Amaziah’s of our society push her off the path God has chosen for her by discrediting her, misrepresenting her, tempting her, or questioning her relevancy. She is continuing to enter the fravy and expose the corruption that is rife within the permanent political class entrenched in Washington, D.C. It is something she faced head-on in the ‘good ole boy’ network that used to be Alaskan politics. Its something she began to expose on a national level in her Tea Party of America Speech in Iowa on September 3rd. Gov. Palin accused President Barack Obama of steering government to benefit corporate campaign donors. Palin then turned to her party’s presidential candidates: “To be fair, some GOP candidates, they also raise mammoth amounts of cash,” Ms. Palin said. “What, if anything, do their donors expect for their investments?” She has continued to discuss the corruption that runs rampant throughout the halls of Congress with her speech in South Korea and continues to bring it to light in her Facebook notes and tweets on Twitter. For example, in her Facebook note, American Crony Capitalism Brings Jobs to Finland she hammered away at the obvious corruption, “It’s bad enough that we borrow money from foreign countries to give to foreign countries. Now we borrow from foreign countries to finance jobs in foreign countries. (This kind of reminds me of the $2 billion assistance President Obama provided Brazil for their off-shore energy developments, while shutting down or blocking much of our own off-shore domestic drilling. He’s in favor of energy jobs in Brazil. But in America? Not so much.)” Gov. Palin ends that particular note with “Wake up, America, before it’s too late.”
In Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Jimmy Stewart’s character was regarded as a country bumpkin and the establishment believed he had no business in the hallowed halls of Capitol Hill. But Mr. Smith, the good hearted, honest, and courageous man won in the end, and the establishment and media looked like fools having covered for the corrupt liars. Amos was a country prophet, out of the wilderness. Yet, this ‘not for profit’ prophet courageously brought the ills of a corrupt Israel to light and attempted to wake Israel up before it was too late.
Will America wake up before its too late? Are we like the Israel of Amos’ time? When a people abandon their ideals and beliefs, their nation, their way of life is in mortal peril. When a people suppress the truth, their society is in danger of collapse. Unlike the Israelites did with the message from Amos, we aren’t turning a deaf ear to Governor Palin’s message. It seems we just might be rousing from our too-long slumber.With the release of Peter Schweizer’s book Throw Them All Out and talk of Stephen Bannon making a documentary based on the book, I suspect crony capitalism will become an important topic in not only the upcoming GOP primaries but also in the general election. Gov. Palin brought the crony capitalism debate into prominence and it remains at the forefront of the discussion on America’s future. I believe Sarah Palin will continue to be the bearer of the message that corruption at all levels of society is wrong. Like Amos she brings a message forward that demands that we all, especially those in positions of power deal justly with one another. Its up to us to act on that message and make a change for our country. The history of our country is replete with examples of how small groups of committed people have brought needed changes. Look to the American Revolution as a good example of a group that took on the corruption of the British government in the colonies to become our nation of sovereign citizens. Take famed anthropologist, Margaret Mead’s stirring words to heart, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” It is up to us to fight evil with good when it comes to the graft and lies permeating Capitol Hill and the White House.