On July 3, 2009, Sarah Palin announced her resignation as the Governor of Alaska to a small contingent of local reporters, standing in her backyard on the shores of Lake Lucille, surrounded by family and friends. There were 18 months and one legislative session left in her term. Many in the lower 48 that day waited over an hour for video feed of the speech to be finally available outside the state. In the meantime, national networks started spinning with second hand reports. First they reported she was not seeking re-election. Then they started getting word that she was stepping down. They immediately began questioning why. Was she under FBI investigation? Was she having an affair? What was she trying to cover up? This questioning began before her words even had a chance to make it outside the state.
Citizens of the state listened in disbelief to our Governor. She had taken on the corrupt Alaska Republican Party and had weathered the glaring spotlight of a national campaign, yet seemed to be suddenly caving to the pressures of a small sect of liberal Alaskans. These few Alaskans had been providing the lower 48 with information about how ‘Alaskans’ felt about the Governor for quite some time. They had also been engaged in harassing the Governor since her return from her Vice Presidential campaign.
She announced the press conference at the last second, not giving national media the opportunity to arrive. Her message was for Alaskans. When she began, the Governor seemed shaken. Her husband, Todd, had flown in from Bristol Bay to stand by her side. I immediately knew that this wasn’t a simple statement of not seeking re-election. She talked about Alaska’s value to the world and the country. She talked about the resources we hold. She pointed out the achievements her administration had already accomplished during her term as Governor. And then she announced her resignation. The text of her statement in part as released by the Governor’s office:
“…Political operatives descended on Alaska last August, digging for dirt. The ethics law I championed became their weapon of choice. Over the past nine months I've been accused of all sorts of frivolous ethics violations - such as holding a fish in a photograph, wearing a jacket with a logo on it, and answering reporters' questions.
Every one - all 15 of the ethics complaints have been dismissed. We've won! But it hasn't been cheap - the State has wasted THOUSANDS of hours of YOUR time and shelled out some two million of YOUR dollars to respond to "opposition research" - that's money NOT going to fund teachers or troopers - or safer roads. And this political absurdity, the "politics of personal destruction" ... Todd and I are looking at more than half a million dollars in legal bills in order to set the record straight. And what about the people who offer up these silly accusations? It doesn't cost them a dime so they're not going to stop draining public resources - spending other peoples' money in their game.
It's pretty insane - my staff and I spend most of our day dealing with THIS instead of progressing our state now. I know I promised no more "politics as usual," but THIS isn't what anyone had in mind for ALASKA.
If I have learned one thing: LIFE is about choices!
And one chooses how to react to circumstances. You can choose to engage in things that tear down, or build up. I choose to work very hard on a path for fruitfulness and productivity. I choose NOT to tear down and waste precious time; but to build UP this state and our country, and her industrious, generous, patriotic, free people!
Life is too short to compromise time and resources... it may be tempting and more comfortable to just keep your head down, plod along, and appease those who demand: "Sit down and shut up", but that's the worthless, easy path; that's a quitter's way out. And a problem in our country today is apathy. It would be apathetic to just hunker down and "go with the flow".
Nah, only dead fish "go with the flow".
I WILL support others who seek to serve, in or out of office, for the RIGHT reasons, and I don't care what party they're in or no party at all. Inside Alaska - or Outside Alaska.
But I won't do it from the Governor's desk.
I've never believed that I, nor anyone else, needs a title to do this - to make a difference... to HELP people. So I choose, for my State and my family, more "freedom" to progress, all the way around... so that Alaska may progress... I will not seek re-election as Governor.
And so as I thought about this announcement that I wouldn't run for re-election and what it means for Alaska, I thought about how much fun some governors have as lame ducks... travel around the state, to the Lower 48 (maybe), overseas on international trade - as so many politicians do. And then I thought - that's what's wrong - many just accept that lame duck status, hit the road, draw the paycheck, and "milk it". I'm not putting Alaska through that - I promised efficiencies and effectiveness! ? That's not how I am wired. I am not wired to operate under the same old "politics as usual." I promised that four years ago - and I meant it.
It's not what is best for Alaska.
I am determined to take the right path for Alaska even though it is unconventional and not so comfortable.
With this announcement that I am not seeking re-election... I've determined it's best to transfer the authority of governor to Lieutenant Governor Parnell; and I am willing to do so, so that this administration - with its positive agenda, its accomplishments, and its successful road to an incredible future - can continue without interruption and with great administrative and legislative success.
My choice is to take a stand and effect change - not hit our heads against the wall and watch valuable state time and money, millions of your dollars, go down the drain in this new environment. Rather, we know we can effect positive change outside government at this moment in time, on another scale, and actually make a difference for our priorities - and so we will, for Alaskans and for Americans.”
Her statement was clear. Her administration was stymied by the politics of personal destruction. The time, energy, and resources of the state were being used to defend her from relentless attacks. It was clear that this type of attack was the new normal in Alaska politics. And she thought the State deserved better.
Immediately upon her resignation, she did what most Alaskans would do. She sought shelter and solitude in the familiarity of hard work on the shores of Bristol Bay.
The national media, desperate to explain her actions using anything except the reasons she had just stated, began a 24-hour spin cycle attempting to develop alternative reasons. The FBI had to issue an unprecedented statement, stating she was not under any type of investigation by them. We can assume that was in response to an unprecedented number of media requests.
The Palin’s granted interviews to several national media outlets just days later. CNN, ABC, and NBC were among the throng that flew reporters and film crews out to the remote location in hopes of unveiling the “real story”. The Governor, in full Alaskan fishing gear and with family in tow, reiterated her reasoning to the inquisitive reporters.
I encourage those hoping to find the truth behind her resignation to start by listening to her words. Time has passed and we have had the advantage of seeing what the future has held, both for the Governor and for the State.
Governor Palin announces her resignation
And if you only have time to watch one, Andrea Mitchell interviews
It’s a little less than 6 minutes. It reiterates her consistent message.
The decision she made that day had profound implications for herself, her family, our State and our Nation. In order to fully understand the decision and its ongoing effects, one needs to know the players and the history of Alaskan politics. In the coming weeks, Alaskans4Palin will discuss the key players, their past relationships to the Governor, the ethic complaints, and the cost involved that led to the decision by our Governor to put the wellbeing of the State before her own. We will explore the reactions of both the left and the right in more detail. We take a look at the path Governor Palin has taken since leaving office as well as the progress of the key projects her administration set in motion.
Those outside the State who wish to dismiss her as a quitter are likely missing some of this key information regarding Alaskan politics. Those within the State who make the same charge are likely the same people who supported the obstacles that shackled her administration. Liberals will continue to make the charge, as it is getting increasingly difficult for them to attack her in any other way.
Those who seek truth need to hear the other side of the story. The left wing liberal media and bloggers have spewed their hatred and skewed perception of Governor Palin’s resignation for long enough.
The truth is that many Alaskans, while disappointed to lose her leadership, continue to support her today. We view her resignation as our Governor as one of the greatest forms of intentional self-sacrifice ever seen in Alaskan politics. To purposefully give up power, for the good of the people, is unheard of in politics today. Greed, money, and power keep politicians fighting for elected titles long past their expiration date. Our Governor, made a decision that might not have been the best for her personally or politically, but it was the best for the tax paying constituents of the State. She said "Politically, if I die, I die", making it clear that she understood the implications her actions could have on her political future. But as Governor, she stepped up and acted in the best interest of the people she represented that day. And for that I am personally grateful.