In the days since Barack Obama won a second free, peaceful and fair election, capturing more than 50% of the popular vote again, a growing number of conservatives have called for their states to secede from the United States of America.
The drumbeat of secessionist talk has been pushed most actively by the Drudge website, the most influential right-wing news organization after Fox News, and a major shaper of opinion in hard-right circles.
The latest call to arms comes from conservative talk show host Alex Jones — linked to by Drudge — who last week insisted that the results of the election should be overturned by individuals and groups willing to destroy the fabric of our nation.
“America is already gone. We must recognize that, pull out the New World Order, prosecute the criminals that have hijacked the Republic that don’t flee, and then reconstitute the Republic,” Jones argued. “But we must first separate or die to then rejoin.”
The hugely influential Republican leader Ron Paul, meanwhile, chimed in with the view that he’s not interested in pushing for secession right now, but “I call for the principle of secession being recognized.”
According to Paul, states can “voluntarily leave any time they want” and he considers the possible dissolution of our union to be a viable option that should remain on the table.
This follows on the heels of right-wing Americans who have hung our national flag upside down, raised nutty, fact-free allegations about ballot-stuffing and corruption, and begun an absurd bluster about impeaching a president elected earlier this month.
Secession talk has been described in words that range from “largely symbolic” to “treasonous.” I think it’s both.
No one takes any of this seriously as an action item. Alabama and Texas won’t be leaving the union any time soon.
But it is a dangerous trend when tens of thousands of conservative Americans are radicalized and poorly informed to the point that they would destroy our nation because their side lost a single election.
The liberal version of this bitter childishness is talk of “moving to Canada,” which gets tossed around every time an Al Gore or a John Kerry is toppled.
But there is a substantive difference between lazy-minded people talking about quitting their country and crazy-minded people talking about destroying it.
I don’t think the Republican Party is solely responsible for radicalizing Americans who are so frightened of our modern society that they are (quite literally) buying up handguns and talking about a new secession movement.
But I do think the GOP has indulged and cultivated those fears — and attempted to capitalize on them. 2012 should be the year that party leaders reject that approach.
Some conservatives have already taken a stand. Eric Erickson at the influential RedState blog wrote bluntly that he has “no plans to secede from the union. If you do, good luck with that, but this is not the place for you.”
He goes on to say that “dabblers in this latest nuttiness” are unwelcome in his version of the conservative movement.
“Our aim is to beat the Democrats, not beat a retreat to a Confederacy that Generals Grant and Sherman rent asunder well over a hundred years ago.”
I think he’s right. Republicans can be a clear-voiced party of the mainstream center-right. Or they can be the party of the angry, desperate backward-looking fringe.
This month’s election suggests that they can’t be both.