EXCERPT: 'America by Heart' by Sarah Palin

PHOTO: America by Heart : Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag by Sarah Palin
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"America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag" is former vice presidential candidate and conservative power house Sarah Palin's second book after her 2009 bestselling memoir, "Going Rogue: An American Life." The book is a collection of Palin's favorite speeches, sermons and inspirational works. She also includes memories from her extensive traveling in the last year.

We the People

When I was elected governor of Alaska in 2006, my friend Bruce, who'd helped out on the campaign, presented me with a black-and- white framed print of Jefferson Smith, the character played by Jimmy Stewart in the Frank Capra film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. It hung on my office wall in the governor's office in Juneau, and it hangs on my office wall in Wasilla today.

Call it corny, but Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is one of my favorite movies. It's a movie about hope. It's a movie about good triumphing over evil and idealism defeating cynicism. Most of all, it's a movie about the timeless truths of America handed down to us from our forefathers and foremothers. In other words, it's a movie Hollywood would never make today.

In case you've forgotten, Mr. Smith is about an American Everyman, Jefferson Smith, who goes to Washington to fill the Senate seat of a corrupt senator who died in office. The political machine chooses Smith because he is an ordinary man, a nonpolitician, and they think they can control him. But he holds fast to his ideals—the ideals of the American founding—and eventually defeats the machine. The movie was made in 1939, but its message is timeless: there may be corruption in politics, but it can be overcome by decent men and women who honor America's founding principles, the way the American people do.

No doubt, most of today's Hollywood hotshots think movies like Mr. Smith are sappy and uncool, foolish sentimentalism about a country they seem to prefer to run down rather than build up. During the Iraq War, Hollywood produced a whole slew of movies that portrayed the United States (read: the Bush administration) as motivated by vengeance and oil, with the troops as mindless pawns. But almost all of them bombed at the box office, because most Americans don't share this view of our country or our troops. The same cultural gap exists with Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Americans love this movie. Over seventy years later, we still watch it and judge Washington against it, because it is happily, unabashedly pro-American— not pro-government, certainly, but definitely pro-American. It celebrates the values that come to us from our founding and that have made our country great.

The wonderful thing about Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is that it doesn't just cheerlead for America, or engage in a theoretical discussion of our founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. It puts these documents and their ideas into a human context. It shows us all the love, charity, and humanity that they embody when they are honored and adhered to.

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