Friday, April 17, 2009

Republican Treason

This is slightly off topic for this blog.

What gives with the Grand Old Party? Yesterday, at some kind of staged right wing political event (a 'tea party') the Governor of Texas floated the idea that Texas just might secede from the Union. His trial balloon went over like a lead balloon and today he is busily backtracking. But he is on tape, just like the governor of Illinois trying to sell Barrack Obama's senate seat.

This isn't the first incident along these lines. Several years ago Sarah Palin was a speaker at the annual convention of the Alaskans for Independence movement. She got a free pass during the presidential campaign I suspect because she played the 'my husband made me do it' card (Todd Palin is the seccessionist family member, apparently he doesn't do the dishes, can't see Russia from his kitchen window, or fails to appreciate the concept of strength in numbers).

Palin and Perry are not trivial politicians. Two of the three most populous states in the country have Republican governors, and Perry is governor of one of them. Of course, Palin was the Republican vice presidential nominee in the last presidential campaign, as well as being the sitting governor of Alaska. What gives?

Now, treason has a highly technical definition in this country (unlike some places). For Perry and Palin, the two or more witnesses requirement is satisfied. I'd leave it others to decide whether travelling to and participating in an event promoting the dismemberment of the Union constituting an action aiding the enemies of the United States. FWIW, on the law, Perry might have the better defense, since Palin's Alaskan whackos are presumably serious and presumably plan their events to promote their purposes, while Perry just got carried away at a made-for-media right wing shennanigan.

Why is this getting any attention? I suspect it's an early warning sign of some fairly significant stresses the body politic is about to suffer. The issue of whether the United States are a single country was decided almost a century and a half ago (indeed, Texas was part of that failed succession). But what holds the country together today?

Since World War II, external pressures have played an important role--but now that the old Soviet Union has dismembered, despite the putative threat of militant Islam, those pressures are dialed way, way back. It is a common culture, set of values, and world view? While there continues to be general acceptance of the importance of the institutions of civil society, the rule of law, and a bland non-challenging secular mindset, the praise of diversity, exaltation of tolerance and confinement of religious issues to a private spiritual sphere of the individual citizen have privatised those previous commons.

These aren't easy questions. Almost makes me wish for the good old days of 2006. Back then, leading Republicans refrained from treasonous sentiments, and satisfied themselves with insider trading (Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist), playing political bagman (House Majority Leader Tom Delay) and molesting teenage boys ((House Whip Thomas Foley).

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