Presenting a united front on behalf of all Alaskans

Posted: Sunday, December 14, 2008

More than half a century ago, the people of Alaska came together to campaign for statehood, and on June 30, 1958, our families rejoiced at the headline "WE'RE IN." Over the next 50 years we never lost sight of the lesson of this victory. When we work hard, and in unity, there is no limit to what we can accomplish for Alaska.

This lesson is one reason that Alaska enjoys one of the highest rates of volunteerism in the nation. It is the reason that we can dream of world class construction projects, whether the trans-Alaska oil pipeline or a natural gas line, and see those projects come to fruition.

Fifty years ago, few Americans could claim any familiarity with Alaska. Over the past three decades, as Alaska became more accessible to America, the country became more fascinated with Alaska. They like what they see. It is not just because of Denali, Glacier Bay or the opportunity to view wildlife from the road. It's the infectious Alaska spirit.

Our passion for Alaska also fuels some of the most exciting political campaigns in the country. Yet when these campaigns end, the commercials drop from the airwaves and the yard signs are put away, we come together once again to work for the betterment of the land we love.

Alaska's success has always depended on a strong partnership with the federal government. After all, the federal government controls two-thirds of our land. The federal government rigorously controls Alaska's ability to benefit from its vast energy, mineral and fisheries resources through extensive regulatory structures. We host some of the military's most sophisticated equipment and best trained troops. Our troops train on some of the best training grounds anywhere in the world. Our Alaska Native institutions are dependent on healthy funding streams for federal Indian programs.

Without strong relationships between Juneau and Alaska's delegation in Washington, our ship would sink. This is why the cohesion of Alaska's congressional delegation has been the envy of other states for more than a quarter century. It is why Alaska's congressional delegation and Alaska's governor, regardless of the party from which they were elected, have historically presented a united front to the federal government.

With a new administration coming to Washington, we appreciate that this is no time for distraction by media-manufactured rivalries. We know that we can achieve far more together than we can alone.

We are grateful for the opportunity that Alaskans offered us when we are elected to the offices we hold. We hold exciting jobs that enable us to achieve great things. Whatever hornets the media may want to stir up, Alaskans can be assured that we are deeply and fully committed to working together for the good of our great state.

• Lisa Murkowski is Alaska's senior U.S. senator, and Sarah Palin is Alaska's governor and a former Republican vice presidential candidate.

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