David Brooks’s much-discussed column yesterday on Sarah Palin was interesting to me, not because it seemed to offer a credible voice against Sarah Palin’s candidacy, but because of its examination about where our leaders should come from in a republic.

Brooks offers two paradigms of conservatism to examine the tension in its intellectual circles over Palin’s pick: establishment elitism and populist reformism. Brooks eventually concludes that the demands of modern-day governance make the virtues of prudence and experience found in establishment elitism more important than the common-sense instincts of populist reformism.

I admit to having my own conflicting feelings related to the question of whether the country needs more leaders outside of the “elite quarters.” Fundamentally, I believe country needs more Sarah Palins in our local governments. We need more people who show an active interest in politics in their local communities and have the courage to run for public office. Yes, I disagree with her positions on almost everything, but I do believe that participation in democracy is an objective good and felt that her selection would help promote public service. However, if people are going to run for the highest office in the country, there needs to be evidence that they have a command of the issues that affect not only their local community, but the whole country.

If I were to make an addendum to Brooks’s column, I would argue that it’s not her inexperience alone that makes her a poor choice; it’s her lack of demonstrated curiosity and comprehension of national issues and international issues. This week’s New Yorker article by Philip Gourevitch highlights just how parochial Alaska politics are (see Palin’s own “Alaska First” gubernatorial slogan). Remember Barack Obama’s early clear-headed opposition to the war in Iraq? Where is the evidence of Sarah Palin’s own command of the vital issues facing the country? It certainly isn’t visible through the media fortress the campaign has built around her. Yes, she has a grasp of some issues relating to energy, but it seems primarily related to her desire to securing extra cash payments to Alaskans.

This addendum would allow for the veneration experience that Brooks argues for while still protecting the spirit of our republic, which encourages everyone to participate in the political process.

The views expressed in this blog do not represent the views or opinions of Generations United.