Tag Archives: Allen West

Secession… Again?

This decision will have far-reaching ramifications for the future of our constitutional republic. Perhaps law-abiding states should bond together and form a Union of states that will abide by the constitution. — Allen West, chair of the Texas Republican Party on the Supreme Court decision turning down the Texas lawsuit to overturn the election results in four states.

My guy Abraham Lincoln and the Union soldiers already told you no. — Representative Adam Kinzinger, Illinois Republican.

We have seen this movie before: A significant minority of Americans refusing to accept the results of an election. In 1861, it led to Fort Sumter and four years later the ruin of the Confederacy and the end of slavery. Americans for a century-and-a-half since believed the Civil War settled the question of the inviolability of the Union. As President Abraham Lincoln said in his First Inaugural Address in the midst of the secession winter: “No State upon its own mere motion can lawfully get out of the Union…. The Union is perpetual.” 

But, some Americans apparently did not stay for the end of the movie. They still do not believe in the essence of democracy, which is that losers accept the results of the election. The peripatetic Allen West — who represented Florida in Congress but now serves as chair of the Texas Republican Party — seems to be among those Americans. Count Rush Limbaugh — the radio show host and provocateur — also among them. Limbaugh said recently, “I actually think that we’re trending toward secession.”

There are at least two significant differences between the secessionists of 1861 and the nutty folks of 2020. In 1861, the South left the Union not because it did not believe Lincoln was the legitimate president of the United States, but rather because it recognized Lincoln as the legitimate president and the secessionists believed his election represented a threat to slavery. Lincoln and his fellow Republicans (this is when the Republican Party was loyal to the Union) could protest forever that all they intended was to limit slavery in the Western territories and to leave it alone in the Southern states. Southerners, however, understood that restricting slavery was the first step to its abolition, so they left the Union.

The second difference is the sectional nature of secession in 1861. One section of the United States, the South, seceded. The eleven states of the Confederacy were contiguous, and they all sought to protect a socio-economic system — slavery — at odds with the ethos of American democracy and 19th century morality. The rest of the United States believed slavery immoral, and while most Northerners did not seek the immediate abolition of slavery, most  believed the country should embark on a path leading to the eventual end of the institution.

But, look at a map of the 2020 election. While it is true that most of the blue areas are on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and in the upper Midwest and the interior of the nation is red, there are anomalies. Georgia is surrounded by red states. Will North Carolina and South Carolina of the Trump States of America grant a right of transit from the rest of the United States of America to Georgia and vice versa? And, then there is the question of voting patterns. Even in deeply red Oklahoma, one-third of Sooners voted for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Same, only in reverse, in California, where a third of the voters sought to keep Trump and Pence in power. Will Republicans from the United States of America and Democrats in the Trump States of America have a population exchange reminiscent of the bloody Hindu and Muslim exchange during the birth of independent India and Pakistan?

Secession in 1861 led to internecine violence. The chance of secession in 2021 is next to zero, but the threat of violence is real. Election officials merely doing their jobs in reporting Democratic victories in swing states have been targets of right-wing threats. On Saturday, the odious Alex Jones of Infowars told pro-Trump rally goers in Washington, D.C., that President-elect Joe Biden “will be removed one way or another.” It does not take much imagination to understand what “another” means in this context.

This is scary stuff, and it is being tacitly encouraged by Republicans who supinely are following Trump in his fantasy that the election was stolen and that the “steal” can be stopped. Every Republican in Congress and every Republican state attorney general who supported Texas’ absurd law suit will be complicit if the worst occurs. Trump is irredeemable, but really, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, do you believe the election was fraudulent?

The real Civil War likely will be not between Democrats and Republicans but within the Republican Party. Already, there are signs that some Christian evangelicals are rethinking their blind loyalty to the Republican Party. Beth Moore, the founder of Living Proof Ministries and a popular Southern Baptist speaker, voiced on Twitter her frustration: “I’m 63 1/2 years old & I have never seen anything in these United States of America I found more astonishingly seductive & dangerous to the saints of God than Trumpism. This Christian nationalism is not of God. Move back from it.” Another evangelical, Karen Swallow Prior, tweeted: “While I did not ever vote for Trump, I did vote for local and state @GOP candidates. (I am a lifelong conservative, after all.) I am now embarrassed and ashamed that I did so. What a bunch of money-grubbing, power-hungry, partisan cowards who care nothing about conservatism.” As conservative columnist David French notes, “The frenzy and the fury of the post-election period has laid bare the sheer idolatry and fanaticism of Christian Trumpism.” Some, proving the French’s words, are saying: Enough. 

Revulsion over Trump’s antics and Republican sycophancy has not reached significant proportions yet. But, cracks in the overwhelming support evangelicals have given Trump are appearing, and state and local Republicans have declined to do Trump’s bidding in overthrowing a legitimate election. Even some elected Republicans in Congress have shown they are willing to stand against Trump and Trumpism. 

Their courageousness may tear the Republican Party apart. That would be a shame, since the nation needs two vibrant political parties representing different points of view and serving as checks on each other. But, a civil war among Republicans is preferable to a civil war among Americans.

Posted December 15, 2020

 

Snubbery on the Right

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie currently has two distinctions: first, he’s the most popular Republican in the country; and two, he won’t be speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the right wing’s annual dog-and-pony show.

The justification for snubbing the Republican governor of a blue state who has a 74 percent approval rating?

“CPAC is to conservative politics what all-star games are to professional athletes,” writes Al Cardenas, the head of the American Conservative Union, the group that organizes CPAC. “You get invited to speak amongst literally thousands of potential candidates. Governor Christie was invited to CPAC last year because he did a great job in N.J. facing up to the teachers unions, balancing the budget and cutting debt. This past year he strongly advocated for the passage of a $60+ billion pork barrel bill, containing only $9 billion in disaster assistance and he signed up with the federal government to expand Medicaid at a time when his state can ill afford it, so he was not invited to speak.”

In other words, by the criteria of the far right, Christie had a bad year.

But Cardenas adds that all is not lost for the governor: “Hopefully he will be back in top form next year. We would be delighted to invite him again.”

Who in the conservative firmament had a good year in 2012, thus warranting a coveted speaking spot at CPAC? The ACU’s Web site lists the featured speakers. Sarah Palin is prominently displayed. Her last political move was to resign as governor of Alaska.

Also speaking: Mitt Romney, who lost a winnable presidential election. Then there’s Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Perry, all of whom tripped up in the Republican 2012 primaries. Also Allen West, who was defeated for reelection in a Florida congressional district. And Carly Fiorina, whose vast wealth could not buy a Senate seat from California.

Wayne LaPierre and David Keene, leaders of the National Rifle Association, will be in attendance, reassuring all Americans of their Second Amendment rights.

Other featured speakers: Crystal Wright, T.W. Shannon, Katie Pavlich, Wayne Allen Root, Art Linares, Sonnie Johnson, Chelsea Henry. (I don’t know who they are either.)

Conservatives may be angry at Christie for supporting emergency relief for victims of Hurricane Sandy (his state was hit hard, after all) and for signing up for Medicaid expansion (so have Rick Scott of Florida Jan Brewer of Arizona, among other Republican governors). But Christie’s real sin was to praise President Obama for his rapid response to Sandy’s devastation. Worse yet, Christie literally and figuratively hugged the president who is hated by many on the right. Even worse yet was the timing of the hug, coming just days before the election.

Christie’s exclusion from CPAC comes as some Republicans, facing the implications of their 2012 electoral rout, are calling for the party to be more inclusive. Here’s the conservative spin of Joe Scarborough of Morning Joe: “Chris Christie is sitting at a 74% approval rating in New Jersey. And I thought it was so funny, someone last night said, ‘you know, Chris Christie doesn’t have a future inside the Republican party,’ and I started laughing. This Republican party, this part of the Republican party that’s lost 5 out of the 6 presidential elections, this part of the Republican party doesn’t have a future in the Republican party. Chris Christie’s future? Pretty damn bright.”

As for the governor, who’s frequently mentioned as a GOP 2016 contender, he professes to be unfazed by the controversy. “I didn’t know that I hadn’t been invited to CPAC until two days ago when I saw it in the news,” Christie told supporters.

The governor says he has other priorities: “I can’t sweat the small stuff. I’ve got a state to rebuild.”

The often volatile Christie has no hard feelings: “Listen, I wish then all the best. They’re going to have their conference, they’re going to have a bunch of people speaking there. That’s their call… It’s not like I’m lacking for invitations to speak around the country.”

Posted March 1, 2013