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They love America and hate the United States

by Bryan Zepp Jamieson
Mayl 2, 2009

Research 2000 had a poll the other day that claimed that 32% of Republicans in Georgia would support leaving the United States. This compared to 5% among Democrats, and 14% among independents. As Daily Kos correspondent Arjun Jaikumar remarked, "Apparently, the most conservative of Republicans only love their country when they're in power. Charming."

It's scary only until you realize that there's not much left of the GOP these days, and the extremist nuts make up a disproportionate number of that GOP “base.” In Georgia, for instance, 25% of voters identify themselves as Republicans (which is higher than the country at large, which is now only 22% Republican. Incredibly, there were more Republicans in Georgia in the 1960s, when the party was seen as northern, anti-Jim-Crow, and liberal). Thirty-two percent of a quarter of the population is 8% of the total population. The eighth percentile will put you right out near the lip of any bell-shaped curve. Welcome to Wingnut World. The land of guns, gawd, and meth. Or “The Knights,” which is the new, done-over PR group fronting for the KKK. And while most mainstream Christians have deserted the GOP in droves, the not-inconsiderable apocalyptic snake-handlers who believe “The Omega Factor” is a gonna-be-true story are still a fundamental part of that base. The four jackasses of the apocalypse and all that.

I actually drew criticism from one wingnut who chided me, telling me that by questioning the patriotism of people who wanted to secede from the United States, I was doing the Democrats no favors. With most people, I would have assumed sarcasm was being employed, but I've dealt with this particular nut before. He really thinks that comparing people who want to grab their guns and open fire on the US Army because America elected a Negro as President to the slaver rebels of 1861 wouldn't be politically astute. Therefore, the American people would rise up in righteous wrath and demand that I apologize for questioning the patriotism of insurrectionists.

I guess I just wasn't in a very apologetic mood, despite being raised in Ottawa. I didn't oblige him.

Of course, Georgia isn't the worst. Texas is. A majority of Republicans think Texas would be better off without the United States. It would be interesting to see how many Americans think the US might be better off without Texas. Even among state Democrats, who understand that patriotism isn't just a ploy meant to silence people who disagree with them, support for the idea ran at about 16%, with 80% disapproving. (As always, I wonder about the Olive Oyls, the 4% who can't decide if they like the idea or not. Heinlein was wrong: some people can't even muster an opinion on cats).

Georgia actually had a resolution in the Senate, 632, titled “Affirming states' rights based on Jeffersonian principles; and for other purposes.” The resolution (not binding and not taken up by the state assembly) was based on a resolution Jefferson wrote for the state assembly in Kentucky in 1798. The resolution had a truncated list of things Congress was empowered to do (curiously truncated, since Jefferson had to know what the first Article of the Constitution had to say on the matter) and a stern reminder that powers not delegated to the federal government were reserved to the people, or the states.

The resolution, a pointless exercise in batshittery for modern Republicans to be foisting, was silly enough. The reference to Jefferson, with the assumption that it reflected his views on secession, was absurd.

Jefferson had no use for it. In a letter he wrote to John Taylor (a libertarian who approved of slavery), also in 1798, he noted the issues that gave rise to confederalist sentiment, saying, “It is true that we are compleatly under the saddle of Massachusets & Connecticut, and that they ride us very hard, cruelly insulting our feelings as well as exhausting our strength and substance.” But he went on to write, “But who can say what would be the evils of a scission, [separation] and when & where they would end? Better keep together as we are, hawl off from Europe as soon as we can, & from all attachments to any portions of it. And if we feel their power just sufficiently to hoop us together, it will be the happiest situation in which we can exist.”

He noted that if two states were to secede, such as North Carolina and Virginia, they would take to feuding between themselves in short order, and that only single units of states could hope to succeed.

Even in that, he was wrong. At that time, there was a strong secessionist movement within the state of Massachusetts to break away from what was seen as too much power and control by Boston. The movement achieved its goals, and became the state of Maine. Jefferson would have been flabbergasted to know that in 35 years, his own state of Virginia would secede from America, and immediately thereafter, the northern third of the state would secede from Virginia and rejoin the Union. That's the chunk known, somewhat illogically, as “West Virginia” today. I live in the state of Jefferson, a region that in a non-binding plebiscite some 16 years ago, voted 91-9% to secede from Sacramento.

Slight difference between the nutballs who want to secede in Georgia, and the Jeffersonians here: if you accuse one of the locals of being disloyal to Sacramento, he won't get offended. He'll probably give you a disbelieving guffaw and say, “You THINK?”

Secessionism isn't unusual by any means. Canada has Quebec, Mexico has Chiapas, and England had...well, everybody.

But usually, a certain amount of thought goes into such a stance. Locals are upset over water rights and general lack of influence in Sacramento. The Quebec separatistes have cultural and language issues.

With the fruitloops in Georgia and Texas, it's just an inchoate rage. We saw that with the Tea Baggers, who raged over the fact that Obama was lowering their taxes, had no interest in taking their guns, wasn't a socialist, and could be trusted around white women. At least, that's the reality. The view they have of Obama is some cracked mirror inversion, and nothing can dissuade them from the endless howling.

Even as they destroy the GOP and decrease their own influence, they simply get nastier and alienate more people from the party. Erik Erickson, who runs the influential Red State blog that considers itself the future of the GOP, snarled that departing Supreme Court Justice David Souter was “a goat-fucking child molester.” Given that the GOP has a candidate named Horsely running for governor in the Georgia state primary who claims to have once had sex with a mule, Erickson might want to go a bit easier on the allegations of animal abuse.

The GOP greeted the news of Souter's departure with a chorus of petulant whines, which, while not as vile as Erickson's, were certainly the sort of stuff that will rile up the nutballs and further alienate moderates. One party leader demanded that Obama pick a conservative for the SC because George HW Bush accidentally named a “liberal” – Souter – to the SC so the Dems owed them one.

My friend Jim Kennemur at Lonesome Mongoose passed along the gem about Erickson, but he shared an even better idea that he passed along from Nell Scovell, of Vanity Fair. Scovell knows of a young, bright, gifted law professor at Brandeis University with a strong background in Constitutional law, having clerked for a Supreme Court Justice in the past. Further, she is black, and would share substantially Barack Obama's own philosophy on the Constitution. Her qualifications would be as good as those of most of the sitting justices, and better than some.

Her name is Anita Hill. Yes, that Anita Hill.

Look, the right wing are going to scream and cry and kick their heels and threaten to leave the country no matter who Obama names to fill Souter's spot on the bench. Unless Obama were to cave and name David Limbaugh or Jim Bybee to the court, and with an effectively filibuster proof majority in the Senate, that's not going to happen.

And the beauty of it is that Hill IS very well qualified, and would probably be a damned good judge.

And if the Republicans don't like it, they can threaten to secede. With any luck, they'll wave big American flags as they do so, just to remind everyone of just how absurd they've become.

Posted: May 7, 2009

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