Monday, July 18, 2011

Undefeated Thoughts

I had the honor and privilege of attending the 9:50 showing of "The Undefeated" in Grapevine last Friday night and I can tell you that I was warmed on the inside by the folks that were in attendance to see the film. And that was just the beginning of my insides being warm.

Before the film started, I had the opportunity to meet several people who were there as part of different chapters of O4P which was inspiring to see. They were there handing out bumper stickers, informal questionnaires, buttons and other items of which I took several copies of each. After getting seated, I heard someone call my name and it was someone who recognized me from the article I wrote just a couple of days earlier. We talked a bit and it opened up the opportunity to meet more people who were sitting in the row behind me which was great fun. One of them suggested that I stand up, announce that I was going to be live-tweeting during the movie as well as announce my Twitter handle so people could follow along.

I was overwhelmed by how many people decided to follow me and the response I engendered during the showing of the film. Everything went by in a blur - but I can tell you as a first time live-tweeter, it couldn't have been a better event to capture in real time.

I've thought a lot about the film since Friday night just processing it to try to put it in its proper context. In full disclosure, I haven't seen Steve Bannon's other films so I can't really compare it to those. I've seen my fair share of films - I've seen really good films, really bad films and one film - The Passion of the Christ - that moved me beyond mere words. Seeing that wasn't like seeing a movie, it was like seeing something else wholly different, like seeing something that "lived" or resonated in a way that other films I've seen don't. For me, The Undefeated was more like The Passion because of the way it resonated with me and others who were in attendance as well.

This is a film that moves you. It doesn't give you the out of just letting you sit there. Moving through the first section, which gives you but a glimpse of the hate that has been directed at Gov. Palin, there was not a sound from the audience. It was eerily quiet...it seemed as though people were shocked by the level of hate and brutality shown her. I have to say that it was shocking to me. I had seen some of it but there were a lot of things I hadn't seen. It made me consider how I would react if I were her having to deal with that. And then being a parent, it led to me think about how I would try to explain that to my kids as she has no doubt had to do to hers.

What makes this section so effective is that immediately after it's over, you see home movies and pictures of her growing up in the natural beauty that is Alaska. It drives home two things - the evil nature of the things that have been said and written about Gov. Palin as well as the extraordinarily ordinary nature of her upbringing. Sans the otherworldly beauty of Alaska, her home footage was something akin to Wonder Years with Fred Savage. Normal has many faces and interpretations nowadays but if you were to assign a set of moving images to it, you'd probably choose that footage.

From there it moves into the seeds that were planted in her that blossomed into full-blown activism during the Exxon Valdez disaster back in 1989. She wasn't trying to get rich or see her name in lights. Very simply, she wanted to make a difference to benefit not only her family but those who would come after her. What can't be overstated enough is that she was rooted by her faith in God, her family and her community from the very beginning and those things were what kept her focused and immensely effective from her time as mayor of Wasilla to her days as Governor of Alaska. Ironically, it was the time spent at the kitchen table with her family that drove so much of the innovation inherent in the policies crafted during her political tenures at the local and state level. What was plain to see was that her time as Governor was benefited by her time as Mayor. She was able to take what she learned as a two-term mayor and translate that into effective governance over the entire state. Simply put, she was a very good mayor and an even BETTER governor.

It was also interesting to see the political environment in which she had to operate and how it's a mirror image to the one that's operating in Washington. The Corrupt Bastards Club, or CBC, is not something that pertains only to the all-boys club that was Alaska politics pre-Palin. It is an accurate depiction of Washington politics today. The elephant in the room wasn't the GOP establishment corruption but the grittiness Gov. Palin displayed in the midst of the firestorm surrounding her as she took it on. It's important to note that she had people around her, a small group of warriors every bit as gritty as she. They're called the Magnificent Seven and they reminded me of an elite special ops unit. They were small in number but each of them had a unique skill set and each was as fearless as their leader. They were tireless in their efforts to right the system that had wronged the people they were called to serve and when the dust settled, they ousted a 26-year GOP godfather as well as the Democratic incumbent to win the governor's seat. That by itself is a remarkable story, one made for the movies - a mom of 5 kids, born of two schoolteachers, launches a bid for public office from her kitchen table that reaches beyond the desk of mayor and chairman of the most powerful state-wide commission to the Governorship of Alaska while defeating entrenched, seemingly unbeatable political special interests along the way. But as we all know, there's much more to the story.

The film did a great job of pointing out the fact of how much momentum Gov. Palin's addition gave to the GOP presidential ticket. Her RNC speech fired the imaginations of many millions of people and that began to build upon itself as she traveled the country and spoke to sold out crowds. She invigorated the McCain campaign and propelled it past the Obama/Biden campaign by a significant margin in the polls which I forgot about (I'm sure I'm not the only one) and which the media never mentions. It could be argued that had it not been for the economic meltdown that occurred shortly before the election that we'd be talking about President McCain and Vice President Palin instead of the current occupiers in the White House.

What is also shown plainly is what Gov. Palin had to face when she returned to Alaska and how her administration was ground to a halt due to frivolous ethics charges, all of which were thrown out. I think anyone who watches this film comes to a better understanding of why Gov. Palin decided to step down to allow Lt. Gov. Parnell to continue the work they had begun. She had become the focus of left-wing hate and as such knew the only way the people of Alaska would be served is if she stepped down. She did it knowing what it could potentially cost - but as she said earlier in the film "in politics, you either sleep well or eat well". Stepping down was by all intents and purposes the end of her political career but it turned out to be one of the best things she could ever do. No one has had more of an influence in the political landscape than Sarah Palin has and she's done it using of all things, Facebook, Twitter and well-timed public speeches.

The moment in the film that seemed to encapsulate what she's all about is the footage of her giving the "Game On!" speech up in Madison, WI back in April. There she was, speaking from her heart, shouting over the artificial noise of wingnuts protesting the Tea Partiers gathered, in the frozen rain, focused eyes peering through glasses covered in frozen mist. Despite the hostile conditions around her, there she stood, on the side of the people delivering a fire from her belly that rang in the ears of those in attendance. History was repeating itself all over again because with every political office she's campaigned for, she's battled adverse conditions and hostilities from all sides only to come out of it all stronger for it because her cause was the right one - her cause was and is the people's cause.

The light from her star casts a shadow that extends all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and they cannot even escape it. Her cause is true. Her record is unmatched and unmistakable. Her spirit, like the spirit of so many Americans, is Undefeated. That cold drizzly day in Madison was a shot across the bow of the current Corrupt Bastards Club in Washington, D.C. that a reformer was on her way to reclaim the White House and this country back on behalf of the people.

She's done it before...and she's going to do it again.

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