Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Senator from Somalia

The more we learn about Sharron Angle, the GOP nominee for the Senate in Nevada, the more we see that she is not what you would call a believer in the mainstream of American 21st century political views.

The key to understanding Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle may be the fact that she has not always been a Republican.

For at least six years in the 1990s before she held state-level elective office, Angle was a member of the little-known Independent American Party, a right-wing party that combines elements of Ron Paul’s doctrinaire libertarianism — pro-gun, anti-tax, anti-bureaucracy, pro-states’ rights — with Christian social conservatism and fear of the “North American Union” and other forms of “global government.” The small party attracted considerable controversy in 1994 when it took out a newspaper ad titled “Consequences of Sodomy: Ruin of a Nation,” which suggested HIV could spread through the water.

Julie Ingersoll of Religion Dispatches fills us in on the party Ms. Angle left to run as a Republican.

The Constitution Party opposes abortion in all instances (including some forms of contraception). It calls for the repeal of all federal gun laws. It supports state’s rights and localism including the elimination of any activities on the part of the federal government not explicitly delineated in the Constitution. It advocates reform of Congress including the elimination of pensions, return to the election of senators by state legislators, and repeal of the electoral college. It supports repeal of the Voting Rights Act, Social Security, and the Patriot Act. It calls for the elimination of any control or support by government over education (as that is the God-given responsibility of families), for the right of “state and local governments to proscribe offensive sexual behavior,” and to limit marriage to heterosexual couples. It advocates a hard money currency, repeal of the Federal Reserve and elimination of fractional reserve banking.

As I reported here, the Constitution Party and Christian Reconstructionism have deeply influenced both Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul and his father. It sees itself in opposition not only to Democrats, but to Republicans; leaders have criticized Sarah Palin for calling on tea partiers to choose one of the major parties. The party is officially on the ballot in at least 17 states including Florida, where Bernie DeCastro, an ex-con turned prison minister, its candidate running for U.S. Senate, thinks tea party favorite Marco Rubio is too liberal.

This isn’t “small government” taken to the extreme; this is over the edge and into the realm of the guy in the tin-foil hat on the corner of Biscayne and Flagler in downtown Miami, soaked in his own urine, and verbally assaulting anyone who gets near him. If you want to see a country run the way Sharron Angle envisions it, visit Somalia.

It’s clear that Ms. Angle didn’t leave the Constitution party because she found them too nutty; she’s been saying pretty much the same thing about what she wants to do if she beats Harry Reid, and she’s also not above advocating assassination and violent overthrow of the legitimately elected Congress if she doesn’t get her way. The reason she’s a Republican is that they are the party that could get her on the ballot. So far, the party leadership, such as it is, has been either making excuses or embarrassingly silent.

There are two reasons for this. Either the GOP is afraid to alienate the Tea Party because, for what it’s worth, this melange of libertarians, racists, homophobes, and history-challenged whiners is the closest thing they have to a base; without them, they’d go the way of the Whigs. Or they agree with the extreme views and don’t have the guts to come right out and say it.

It’s easy to dismiss Sharron Angle and Rand Paul as the one-offs and the “holy crap, did you hear what s/he said” quotient in this year’s election; every cycle seems to bring them out. It’s also easy to overreact and demand that they be marginalized or even investigated for threatening sedition; certainly if a left-wing extremist had advocated a “Second Amendment solution” for George W. Bush’s actions in starting a war in Iraq and whooping through laws and orders that trampled the Constitution in ways that would spin the tricorner hats off the Tea Party, the belching wrath of Rush Limbaugh, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, and Michael Steele would still be reverberating. But we’re moving out of the realm of the comically wacky into the real possibility of some serious shit. It’s not just an “if” anymore.

HT to digby.