Grit, Tenacity and Fortitude
Editor’s note: We at HUMAN EVENTS are pleased to bring you this week a series of profiles from the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute. These are profiles of influential and prominent conservative women who have made a tremendous impact for the better on this great country.
I repeatedly get asked: “Why would you make a movie about Sarah Palin–what could we possibly not already know about her?”
The answer is quite simply, “everything that’s important.”
Sarah Palin is what I describe as a “McLuhanesque” figure—one of the most media-saturated people in the world, relentlessly covered by the 24/7 news cycle, yet her real story is there hiding in plain sight, never having been told.
And what story exactly is that? The rise of a woman from complete obscurity to national prominence through her own force of will and sense of justice.
When The Undefeated starts in the late 80s, Sarah Palin is working on a small commercial fishing vessel she co-owns with her husband Todd, who is a blue-collar union member, working on the North Slope. The daughter of a school teacher, she is not part of the social, political, or cultural elite in the remote Mat-Su Valley, 40 miles northeast of Anchorage. In fact, Alaska at that time, was still a wilderness with the rough-hewen culture of a frontier state.
She is essentially out of the loop in a state that is out of the loop.
Sarah Palin is the little guy in “Walmart Nation:” just as obscure, just as powerless, just as insignificant. And that is precisely why she is a role model for young men and women. She didn’t have a rich daddy, she didn’t marry a wealthy or connected husband, she doesn’t have an Ivy League union card. What she did have was the grit, tenacity and fortitude to accomplish great things against almost insurmountable odds.
It is those attributes that are the underpinnings of the American frontier and our success as a country: the “can do” spirit, and a doggedness that just won’t quit. That’s The Undefeated.
I came to appreciate what Gov. Palin stood for as I made the Tea Party Trilogy: ‘Generation Zero’, ‘Fire From the Heartland’, and ‘Battle for America’; a series of three films about the financial collapse of our country and the rise of the Tea Party.
I had never met Gov. Palin, but had filmed her innumerable times at big rallies and Tea Party events—from the dustbowl of Searchlight, Nevada, to the Nashville Tea Party convention, and everything in between.
From a distance, I saw not merely a charismatic leader, but someone who had a very plainspoken way of connecting with the working men and women of our country. Sarah Palin didn’t simply electrify crowds, she moved them.
And that is unique. Particularly in today’s cynical, media-trained, camera-ready politician.
It was during that time that I heard also from those in power on Wall Street, inside the Beltway, and in Hollywood, about how far over her head she was in trying to be a national leader, that she was essentially an airhead, bimbo, and someone strutting far beyond her capabilities. In short the epitome of modern American culture’s “Jersey Shore” politicians.
The establishment’s verdict was in: The meme about Sarah Palin is set in stone: a combination of a divisive airhead coupled with a “Christianist” harpy. Caribou Barbie meets Bible Spice.
After watching the way she spoke to these crowds and the way the crowds responded, it dawned on me why they derided and mocked her: They feared who she was, what she represented, and what she said. Sarah Palin was an existential threat to their system.
And that is the simple reason that my team and I made the film The Undefeated.
We now know that even people who have spent years following her and think they know her, are astonished by what they missed. To wit: She is the most anti-establishment figure in modern political history, from her time on the Wasilla city council through her “crony capitalism” speech against the “permanent political class” at the Iowa Classic Balloon Field on Labor Day weekend 2011, this is someone who has stood by the side of the working men and women of this country, at every level, for the last 20 years.
And that is why she is a leader who deserves our attention. Because she is not a stamped-out assembly line political drone, rather, she is a force of nature.