Voices from the Flats – Dear Sarah, You're Not Alaska.
By Zach Roberts
Special note: This is a message to Sarah, that I sent to her via Facebook. Alaskans will get all the places, some of the references and some of the names. If you don’t get them, give it a Google, or read TheMudFlats.net (why aren’t you reading it already? What’re you a member of the Paliban?)
Or better yet, get your butt on the next flight up to Anchorage. Yes I know it’s November and it’s cold… that means flights should be cheap. Go to Spenard Roadhouse get the Bacon Jam and tell them I sent you.
Recently in one of much commented on Facebook notes you quoted Italian “race car great” Mario Andretti as saying, “If everything’s under control then you’re going too slow.”
Well personally I always liked this quote from the great American race car driver Richard Petty… “No one wants to quit when he’s losing and no one wants to quit when he’s winning.”
I think that might be the more appropriate quote for you, and by that I mean, I wish you’d quit (again).
But that’s beside the point. I just wanted to tell you, I’m sorry I missed your show. I’m sure that it will be great. But I’m busy working on my own little travelogue about Alaska. It’s called The Rogue Candidate: A State in Denial.
It used to have the subtitle “Sarah Palin’s REAL Alaska but I changed it because I’m starting to believe that like some creature in a horror film – you gain power by people mentioning your name. So I’ve decided to take you out of it.
I’m finding that it’s turning out to be a much more interesting story. Instead I’m talking about the story of the Alaskan people, people that have not only survived in harsh conditions but strived in them. Alaska is many things beautiful, extreme, complicated… But I’m sorry to say Sarah, Alaska is not you.
I looked quite a bit but I didn’t find you there. I did find some great people though. No one quite like you with the bumpet and the red suit jacket thing that you wore so often during the campaign.
You weren’t in Anchorage where I stayed with Shannyn Moore and Kelly Walters, or looking down on the mudflats with Jeanne Devon. The people in Anchorage didn’t seem to care for you much. I asked a young man at a gay pride march what he thought of you, he said “I’d [expletive deleted] cut her.” He then stared at me for a long while, he was serious. Don’t worry, he scared me too.
I flew over the Chuitna – didn’t see you there when I was talking to the Burnetts whose home was threaten by a coal mine. Funny thing too, they’re hunters just like you. I really expected to find you in those cool boots that you wore in Homer when you had that chat with a teacher maybe you’d be wearing a brand new pair of Carhartts that your show’s wardrobe picked up for you.
I even went to Whittier – through that long terrifying one way tunnel. Mike Bender of Lazy Otter took Shannyn, Jeanne and I out to see Prince William Sound. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life, and I know I never will. The porpoises swam with our boat… I still can’t express that moment in proper words. It made me want to become a fisherman, like you are. I’d probably go the dip net route though.
Shannyn looking out over Prince William Sound
My friend Shannyn used to fish out there. She doesn’t anymore because Exxon spilled some oil. I’m not a praying man but I tried, hoping that we wouldn’t still find any 21 years later. It’s still there. I’ve got some of it, I can show it to you if you like.
I saw a bear, not a mama grizzly though. It was running along side of my car on Old Seward Highway… or maybe it was Rabbit Creek. Not sure but I remember the dog in the back seat, it’s hackles up and then seeing this brown blur to the right. That was interesting. Driving back to the place I was staying I went past a lynx and had to stop for a moose. That was interesting too. Didn’t even leave the city limits.
I was there for three months and I only saw you once… other than all the times you were on the TV, talking about how NYC (where I live) shouldn’t let some nice people build a community center. You called it a 9/11 mosque for some reason, not sure why since it has nothing to do with September 11th.
I even met the guy that has your old job, Mayor of Wasilla, Verne Rupright. He’s really turning Wasilla’s downtown into a happening place. I hope he beats your grandkids dad in the election next time around.
The moment wherein I shake Sarah Palin’s Hand
We did eventually meet, however briefly.
I shook your hand at the Wasilla 9/11 Remembrance Rally – I might have stood out as I was the only person from New York City there. Your candidate Joe Miller was there, at the “non-partisan” event, along with the local Republican Party and the Tea Party folks… and a right to life group for some reason.
When we met I didn’t ask you any questions or try to bother you as I believe it would have been disrespectful to the event. I’m not that kind of journalist. I even kept a watchful eye on one of your kids while you signed autographs during the closing prayer. Later, I had to ask which one of them it was, as I didn’t know… I don’t care about your family. Again, I’m not that kind of journalist.
I do care though, about the effect that you’re having on a state that I’ve grown to love and call my second home. I consider some Alaskans members of my family, many more among my friends. And I’m sorry Sarah, I hate to be the one to break it to you… but Alaskans, are well… um… ashamed of you. When Alaskans used to go down to visit the lower 48 they used to get asked if they lived in an igloo (my little sister is still convinced), if they ever saw a polar bear, or what it was like to always have snow on the ground. Now everyone asks if they know Sarah Palin. They want the igloo questions back. A couple of them confide in me that they told people they were from Canada! Socialists! They’re embarrassed, because they know Alaska isn’t you.
It’s made up of conservatives, anarchists, separatists, Democrats, Republicans, liberals and even progressives. In the Senate election 65% of the people voted against Joe Miller. They voted against your candidate, even though he was the Republican, he was better financed and he had a great beard.*
This was a red flag, a sign from the electorate that they want you gone, they want you to step aside.
It’s time for you to step aside and let some of the great leaders you have shine. You’re not a leader, you’re a celebrity, a politician at best. Actually Shannyn Moore said it best, you’re not a leader, you’re a climber. If you really care for this state go back to Wasilla, take down that fence and retire. You’ve got a great view from your place enjoy it and let this state thrive. Let Alaska be Alaska. Let it return to it’s progressive roots, the only state that has a right to privacy written into it’s constitution, one of the first to become pro-choice and let’s people smoke weed. Even you admitted to partake.
Let these guys have a chance at running the state, without your meddling. Scott McAdams is the best person I have ever known that has stood for public office. It would have been not only an honor to vote for him, but something I would have told my grandkids about. Hollis French ran the best and most true campaign I’ve seen. I had the privilege of following him around and photographing him on primary day – a great candidate and one of the guys that does the job for the people, and only for them.
Harry Crawford ran a hell of a campaign against entrenched Congressman Don Young. Harry’s an old-school union guy – reminds me of DFA’s Jim Dean – but tougher (you’ve got to be tougher in Alaska). Vince Beltrami, real union. Alaska’s a union state, and a big reason is Vince.
So I’ll be returning soon to Alaska to meet with old friends, hopefully make it to Sitka to hang with Scott McAdams maybe up to Dillingham to see the Pebble Mine first hand and while I’m up there grab some salmon at Jon Corbett’s Windmill Grill.
But it won’t be because of your show. It’ll be because I love the state, even if it is in denial.
*Actually it was a terrible beard. Steve Heimel of APRN has a great beard, and so does Roger “Bones” Ranch.