Sarah Palin to Immigrants: “Speak American”

Palin’s Remarks Both Cringeworthy and Telling

by Josh Guckert

In an interview with CNN on Sunday concerning the ongoing rivalry between Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Jeb Bush, former Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin seemingly attempted to not take sides in the matter, saying that Bush’s fluency in Spanish is a “benefit,” but continuing on to say that if immigrants want to come to the United States that they had “better be here legally,” and that when they are in the US, they should “speak American.”

Palin seemed to subtly correct herself, next saying that immigrants should “speak English,” as it is a “unifying aspect of a nation.” However, this was not before her statement had gone viral, with “Sarah Palin” trending most of Sunday on Twitter.

The former Alaska Governor has also recently made headlines for saying that she would be willing to accept a position in Donald Trump’s Presidential Cabinet (an idea that Trump has proposed on more than one occasion). Palin states that she would prefer to be Secretary of the Department of Energy so that she could promptly abolish the Department.

More broadly, since the loss of the McCain-Palin ticket in 2008, Palin has become a leader in the Tea Party movement, often making statements and speeches which permit the media to portray her as a mere caricature of her former self. She has often spoken in favor of libertarian candidates like Ron Paul and Rand Paul, but she has also praised nearly every person who has affiliated him or herself with the Republican Party, most notably Donald Trump.

Palin’s conduct is a hallmark of the Tea Party: a group which once had strong libertarian roots, but has now become nothing more than an arm of the GOP. Not only has the Tea Party consistently associated itself with the Republican Establishment, it has also sadly become a very nativist and nationalist movement. Rather than a group based upon principles and ideas, the Tea Party has gravitated toward people who merely make outrageous and baseless statements, or who most harshly criticize President Obama.

The Tea Party has become a centerpiece of Donald Trump’s base in spite of the fact that he is by far the most big-government candidate in the entire Republican contest. Every time that Trump says something offensive or downright false, it is portrayed as emblematic of the modern Tea Party. Palin’s comments about “speak[ing] American” can go into that same category: perhaps it is not as mean-spirited as Trump’s past statements, but it helps to paint the Tea Party as an anti-intellectual movement.

So how does all of this relate to libertarians and libertarianism? The issue is that the Tea Party began as a libertarian movement, and it is still seen widely as such to the general public. Despite the fact that this ideology has drastically changed since 2010, the label has stuck, and many have co-opted the “libertarian” title for themselves, including Palin.

Therefore, any time that collectivist and statist comments are made in the name of the “Tea Party,” libertarians should pay attention, as this does harm to our ability to expand and spread word of our central principles. Libertarians should fight to re-claim the Tea Party movement from those who would wish to do it harm.

As the topic of immigration is discussed, there is certainly some dissension among libertarians on what the most ideal solution would be; nonetheless, we must ensure that emotional pleas which seem to be at least partly based in xenophobia or nationalism are promptly quashed. Libertarianism is an ideology based fully in cooperation and tolerance. In order to hold that banner proudly, libertarians must speak out against any person who takes a position to the contrary.

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