With the election less than three weeks away and the gap in the polls widening, it looks like Alaska may get its governor back – or some semblance of who we thought she was. Having penned coming of age novels, I hope we’ll look back on these past few months as a coming of age of sorts for our state, from which we emerge from tumult and naivete into some semblance of reflective, mature adulthood.

Writing will continue to help us grow. Of recent note are an insightful essay by Nick Jans in Salon, “Sarah Palin: The View from Alaska,” and today’s ADN front page story “Polarizing Journey.” We know our governor better now, and more importantly, we know ourselves.

One point we’ve been trying to drive home for folks Outside is what it means to cherish and care for a place that reaches into the core of who we are, all with precious few to lead us. Despite what our governor claims, we’re not a microcosm of America. We’re not like everywhere else.

A few days ago, I braved a chill wind to cheer on the North Pole Patriots at the high school football playoffs. My team lost, but guess who plunked down in the bleacher below to support athletes from the conservative railbelt community? None other than Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell and State Representative Gene Thierriault. And here’s the thing – it was no big deal. No handshakes, no attention. Just a couple of guys hanging out at the game. That’s Alaska.

(Pictured above on June 28, 2008, at a statehood anniversary celebration, from left to right: Alaska’s governor Sarah Palin, lieutenant governor Sean Parnell (who lost a primary challenge to Congressman Don Young in the Repulican primary), and Anchorage mayor Mark Begich, Democratic challenger for the seat of Senator Ted Stevens (now on trial for federal charges of fraud)

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