In 2006, Governor Palin challenged the republican establishment in Alaska and ran for the Governor’s Office on a reform agenda. She not only beat the republican machine in Alaska, but also overcame the democrat machine in the general election.
As Governor of Alaska, Governor Palin presides over a $6.6 billion budget and thousands of state employees. She is the only governor in America that shares a border with Russia and Canada, which requires some foreign policy experience given the thawing of the Arctic Ice and the current race by the U.S., Canada, and Russia to claim the now available oil and gas deposits. Because Alaska is a vital energy producing state, Governor Palin quickly has earned her stripes in advancing an energy agenda that helps free the U.S. from its dependence on foreign oil. She spurred the development of a new pipeline from Alaska to the continental United States. As Governor, she traveled to the Middle East to gain a better perspective on the issues there and to support America’s troops in Iraq, including her oldest son.
As the CEO of Wasilla and Alaska, there was/is no decision above Governor Palin’s pay grade. As with all mayors and governors, she knows the buck always stops with her and that she was/is ultimately accountable to the voters for results.
In stark contrast to Governor Palin’s twelve years as an elected CEO and appointed ethics commissioner, Senator Obama’s career from 1992-2008 is thin on substance.
First, Senator Obama spent 3 years practicing law as a civil right lawyers and part-time law professor. He did not manage a budget or employees in either position.
Next, Senator Obama was elected to the Illinois State Senate in 1996 to represent the south side of Chicago. At most, Senator Obama oversaw a handful of staffers and a small office budget. As a state senator, Senator Obama focused his time and attention on social welfare issues. In eight years, Senator Obama famously voted “present” 130 times, or over sixteen times per year. A “present” vote was an attempt by the caster to escape accountability on a particular piece of legislation or issue.
In 2000, Senator Obama ran for the U.S. House of Representatives. In a two-way primary, he lost by a 2 to 1 margin.
In 2004, Senator Obama ran for the U.S. Senate, and won. Just as with the Illinois State Senate, Senator Obama oversees a handful of staff and a small office budget. In his three and a half years in the U.S. Senate, based on the lack of accomplishments listed during the Democrat National Convention, Senator Obama hasn’t done much. Given that he has spent the last year and a half campaigning for the presidency, such a lack of outcomes isn’t that surprising. Senator Obama has toured foreign countries, including the Middle East.
So, at a time when wasteful spending pervades Washington, D.C., oil and gas prices are too high, reform is desperately needed, Russia is invading a democratic neighbor, partisanship is at an all-time high, and economic growth is anemic, who has the experience to make a real difference? Over the last 16 years, Governor Palin, having lived her life a missiles throw from the Soviet Union and a resurgent autocratic Russia, has managed anywhere from $6 million to $6.6 billion and thousands of employees, lowered taxes, grew the economy, enhanced America’s energy supplies, reformed government, took on her own party, and added 4 children to her family. During that same time, Senator Obama practiced and taught law, voted on legislation, and ran for the presidency. In his time in the Illinois and U.S. Senate, Senator Obama, despite his call for bipartisanship, has not bucked his party on a single major issue. Not one.
There is a reason voters prefer governors in favor of legislators for the presidency. Legislators talk about change. Governors create change.
Another way to state it: Actions speak louder than words.
Matt A. Mayer, President & CEO of Provisum Strategies LLC and Adjunct Professor at The Ohio State University, is the author of the book “Homeland Security and Federalism: Protecting America from Outside the Beltway” available in June 2009.