Monday, March 4, 2013

Q. How Does the Montana Republican Party Spell “Democracy”? A. “T-H-E-O-C-R-A-C-Y”

“If the lesser party dissenting…still persist in dissenting, then doe the major part judicially admonish them, who being thus under censure, their voice is now extinct, and made voide. And so the rest proceed to vote.”        
                                                                      Puritan voting doctrine, ca. 1630s.

If you’re a glutton for punishment, and you live in Montana, you’ve probably been following the doings of the A.L.E.C. sponsored NASCAR race otherwise known as the Montana Legislature[i].  And if you want a refresher course on exactly what flavor of religious control freak our founders framed a constitution around to limit the damage that religious control freaks always inflict on societies, John Barry’s latest book, “Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul” is a good read for you.

That’s because the Montana Republican Party has devolved into a marriage of convenience between the John Birch Society[ii] and the Montana Constitution Party, both of whom trace their pseudo-legal “patriot” tenets back to the Mayflower Compact, which they insist was “holy writ”. They further insist that since the pilgrims' witch-hunting brand of “democracy” has been in America since its beginnings, they are entitled to beat you over your believing or non-believing head with their god's brand of witch-hunting.

I’m talking about voter repression, but lest we lose sight of the Big Picture, let’s step back for a minute and ask ourselves incredulously…What??!! The Republican Party? Hijacked by archaic jokes like John Birch Society and that “sovereign-citizen” outfit founded by a man who was involved in a bizarre conspiracy to kill county officials in Kalispell[iii]?! How in Pilgrims’ Hell can that be?!?!

How indeed. But before I get back to witch hunts, if you don’t believe me about the Montana Republican Party, read their platform[iv] and while you’re doing that, consider its context. The “patriot” tenets within that document were promoted by such domestic terrorist outfits as the Montana Freemen, Posse Comitatus, David Burgert[v], Militia of Montana (M.O.M.) Cal Greenup and gang, and a fistful of other groups and individuals who were deemed so extreme even ten years ago that no mainstream party would have dared touch their tenets with an eleven-foot pole, let alone enshrine them in a platform. Now let’s take a look at what’s in there:
·      County Supremacy? It’s in there.
·      Jury nullification? It’s in there.
·      Sheriff’s First/ Oathkeeper dogma? It’s in there.
·      Fear-based science-bashing such as creationism and global-warming-denial? It’s in there.
·      Paranoid anti-U.N./Agenda 21 conspiracy theories? It’s in there.
·      Even something as whacky and arcane as a bill which would censure the Montana University Board of Regents for not allowing students to carry guns to class??!! You guessed it. It’s right in there, in black and white, in the Montana Republican Party Platform.

In other words, ALL Montana Republicans, in the legislature at least, run on an extremist platform that Timothy McVeigh could have run on and, given that M.O.M. has a sitting senator in the current session[vi], maybe could have won. What a difference a corporate-funded tea party can make, eh?

This isn’t a book review, but to restate, John Barry’s excellent and detailed account of 17th century religious bigotry in the English Colonies is important when we consider the wreckage that is the modern Republican Party. To them, Cotton Mather was one of our “founders” and they’re exactly correct when they thump their chests while claiming that their Old-Testament God has been here since the Mayflower. They simply fall overboard when they further insist that since this is so then case closed, mind dismissed. It’s true. The Intolerable witch-burning God has been present since the founding of the original colonies. But, as Barry describes and American history screams, so has His opposition.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have a personal stake in this argument of whose god is bigger. My grandma always told us that our ancestors came over on “the second ship after the Mayflower”, and I’ve tried to trace that family story back to its source ever since. But as all of us grownups (“progressives” in the vernacular) know by now, American history, as written by Americans, is replete with omissions, including the fact that the Mayflower was only one ship of many crossing and recrossing the Atlantic during that period for a wide variety of reasons, a relatively minor one of which was the transportation of Puritans to a less-and-less spanking-new World.

Maybe my grandma's quip was just a time-worn folksy saying by the time I heard it. Be that as it may, by 1640 the Halseys were indeed in New England being “Pilgrims”, and that same year the family patriarch, Thomas Halsey, sailed down from Connecticut to Long Island, then “owned” by the Dutch. There his small party bought some land from the Shinnecock tribe (who actually did own the land) and helped found Southhampton, the first permanent English settlement in what we newcomers now call New York.

It so happened that a lot of other “pilgrims” were heading south or west about the same time, including Roger Williams, who bought land from the Narragansett tribe, effectively founding Rhode Island. Many were simply seeking out new lands for their expanding populations. But many, like Williams, were escaping the extreme religious intolerances of the original Plymouth, Salem and Massachusetts Bay plantations[vii]. In other words, it seemed that the Puritians’ core intent in founding their American “city on the hill” after being mercilessly persecuted in England was to transform themselves into merciless persecutors on their own terms, which terms they deemed divinely-ordained.  This they frankly stated again and again over the decades of settlement in the 17th century and again and again through the ages and up to our present tea-soaked time.

Now that we’ve fairly and “judicially” eviscerated the Republican Party platform to resemble the marginally-edible dogfood pulp that it is, let’s look at that Puritan quote from the top one more time.

“If the lesser party dissenting…still persist in dissenting, then doe the major part judicially admonish them, who being thus under censure, their voice is now extinct, and made voide. And so the rest proceed to vote.”

Sound familiar? If you’re following the Montana Legislature and the plethora of anti-voters’ bills sponsored by A.L.E.C. lap dogs with short choke collars (Republican ALL), who in turn cloak the venal obfuscation of their handlers with tax-wasting witch-hunting expeditions, it should. Voter-nullification that would do Cotton Mather and Jim Crow proud? It’s in there.

As for myself, I have no way of knowing whether my ancestors were merely looking for land when they settled Long Island or, like Roger Williams and many others, were part of the migration away from the mirror-image of the bigotry and brutality they had left England to escape. But as Montana poet Dick Hugo used to say, “You owe the facts nothing. You owe the Truth everything”. So, since I’m related in word (my grandma’s), deed (westering hippy) and seed, now that I’ve read Barry’s book, I’ve decided that my ancestors were indeed fleeing the Fundamentalist Diplidons[viii] whom my ancestors would be damned if they were going to let jack them around with their snake-oil magic. Furthermore, the democratic test tube we call the Constitution borrowed as much from the Iroquois Confederation as it did from the European Age of Enlightenment. Therefore, We the People (“progressives” in the modern vernacular) have been here since before the God some of our intolerant and intolerable citizens ardently believe they're pledging allegiance to. That’s my story from now on, and I’m sticking to it.

Excerpt from the Montana Republican Party Platform:
“The Montana Republican Party supports efforts to return control and authority to local units, as the government closest and most responsive to the people.”
“We recognize the destructive and insidious nature of the United Nations Agenda 21 and hereby expose to the public and public policy makers the dangerous intent of the Agenda 21 plan.”
“We encourage the State of Montana and its political subdivisions to engage in the coordination process with all federal government agencies that adopt policies.”
“Although the Montana Constitution gives the Board of Regents “full power” to “supervise, coordinate, manage and control the Montana university system,” it does not give the Board of any authority to amend, alter, or abolish the Montana Constitution, nor does it give the University System the authority to deny citizens of Montana the rights they have reserved to themselves from government interference in the Montana Constitution, including the right to keep and bear arms.”
“We affirm our belief in traditional family values and support the preservation of innocent human life at every stage of life beginning at conception through natural death.”

“We support the right of parents to choose the way their children are educated through public, private, church, charter, virtual and home schooling or any combination of those, and through funding which more readily follows the student.”

“Parents shall be allowed to reasonably discipline their children, without legal consequences.”

“We support requiring judges to fully inform jurors of their constitutional rights and responsibilities.”

“We support the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as ObamaCare.”

“We hold…that the States not only have the right, but also the duty to nullify unconstitutional laws in order to protect their citizens.”

“We call upon our Congressional Delegation to urge strong states’ rights policies governing the use of public lands and resources in the West.”

“We oppose any extension of federal or regional bureaucratic control over water originating in Montana and consider any such action an infringement on states' rights.”

“The Sherriff is the chief law enforcement officer of the county. We support the requirement that a federal officer may not arrest, search or seize in Montana without the advanced, written permission of the elected county sheriff.”

“We oppose the federal government yielding to any international pressure to oppose any regulation on domestic energy production or consumption. We oppose any classification of CO2 or other greenhouse gasses as dangerous gasses or pollutants.”

“We oppose the federal government and any foreign or international entity, such as the United Nations, exercising authority over domestic land use decisions.”

“The Montana Republican Party opposes the creation of any additional wilderness areas." 

[ii] Co-founded by A.L.E.C. founders’ “libertarian” father, Fred C. Koch

[vii] One of the reasons that the Dutch were more tolerant in the 17th century Culture Wars was their nature. They were simply much less concerned about the pilgrims’ infatuation with ghosts and witches and much more infatuated with America’s other emerging god—money. In fact, by the 1640s they were very active enshrining their deity of choice behind the walls of New Amsterdam along the base of which actual wall sprang the avenue ever-after known as Wall Street.

[viii] An extinct human species that, like zombies, can never die.

1 comment:

  1. Right on target. Did you see the piety offered by the Governor's (not endorsed by Governor's office and state officials)
    Prayer Breakfast? One young, naive student said we need to return when state and church were 'one'...? Did this young lady recall our founding documents, particularly the BILL OF RIGHTS and the FIRST amendment and the seperation of church and state, which as one was the very reason many left the Old World. Also, the FIRST amendment precedes the 'holiest' of amendments, the 2nd as claimed by the 'baggers' and GOP.