“I’ll be back.” – The Terminator
California is the land of second chances. Too bad Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn’t get one. There was perhaps never a better match between man and place in the new world than Arnold Schwarzenegger and California. He might today be considered to have been well ahead of his time. He urged California to go its own way. The federal government hovering like a UFO overhead often seemed to him a useless nuisance. Arnold has recently started his own world called R20, an organization of regions united in climate action which completely ignores fixed national and international boundaries. Imagine a world born again of original, authentic sovereign regions instead of those inherited from generations past and drawn from ancient contention, some beyond even our human memory.
State & Local Politics
“I’ll be back.” – The Terminator
“States rights’, states’ rights, states’ rights!” — Texas Gov. Rick Perry, April 16, 2009, at The Alamo
A Zen history or anthropology of current times can be drawn on events that have occurred in the past three years that will undoubtedly change our American world, possibly for a century or two.
Three historic events have occurred, and one was iconic: Speaker Nancy Pelosi in October 2009, shouting, her face contorted in disbelief, at a reporter when asked if there were any constitutional problems with ObamaCare. "Are you serious?” she replied. The idea had never, possibly in decades, dawned on her or her Congress. But just before, in February 2009, New Hampshire state Rep. Dan Itse proposed that New Hampshire need not participate in ObamaCare, citing Thomas Jefferson’s Kentucky Resolutions. Twenty-nine states followed, held fast and brought their case to the Supreme Court. Nowhere in the past century did states bloc together so convincingly. The third came this week when President Obama used his “bully pulpit” to endorse same-sex marriage. Thirty states had already brought pre-emptive legislation in opposition. This time the states were ahead of history.
It’s almost Mother’s Day, a time when we celebrate mothers in all shapes, sizes and forms — from birth mother to foster mother to adoptive mother, Jewish mother, Italian mother (etc., etc.); we celebrate Mamas, Mamacitas, Aunts who ought to be included in the group, godmothers and my personal favorite, grandmothers. According to the laws of one state and measures proposed in a handful of others, I suppose I too could be considered a mother.
As the cliché goes, thanks to the wonders of modern science, I’m the owner of a few wonders-of-modern-science frozen embryos. As biological motherhood has evaded me for years now, this option was suggested when it became apparent pregnancy would not be as easy as 1-2-3. These multicellular diploid eukaryotes are precious indeed, not necessarily for what they are now but for what they could be. But they are not people, and I can tell you that I am not yet, despite my best efforts, a mother.
Or am I?
Forget the speech at the Republican convention. Let Gingrich have it. Ron Paul now needs a greater, more responsive forum. The Ron Paul Revolution has awakened. The Hill reports yesterday that Ron Paul supporters are taking over state party organizations across the country — and that could spell trouble for Mitt Romney and other establishment Republicans come election time. (Note: Yesterday in The Daily Caller Ann Coulter had an essay titled “Deport the Republican establishment.” She is the “Republican establishment.”)
“Paul backers have seized control of the Iowa Republican Party and gained influential roles in Nevada and a number of other states,” says The Hill. “While some are loyal Republicans who happen to hold more libertarian views, others are more strident Paul supporters who are less interested in helping Romney and other more mainstream Republicans get elected in November.”
Jim Webb, novelist, warrior and senator, leaves the Senate this year. Man of honor, man of contrasts. He is a man as comfortable in the redneck hollers as he is among South Asia’s Buddhist sangas. We have not seen his likes since Davy Crockett graced the halls of Congress. But he shouldn’t go too far as he is still a good fit for the times. Liberals tend to dislike Wall Street. Conservatives dislike Washington. Jim dislikes both. I’ve been hoping he would run for governor of Virginia. Then governor of Appalachia might be a better fit.
The Hill’s John Feehery asks the important question: Is this election about revolution or restoration? Since April 2009, when Texas Gov. Rick Perry chanted, “States’ rights, states’ rights, states’ rights!” at the Alamo, it’s been on people’s minds. Perry, Gingrich, Santorum, Bachmann and Paul have tendencies.
Revolt needs philosophers like Ron Paul, distinguished supporters like Perry, passionate advocates like Sarah Palin, warrior ascetics like Alaska’s Joe Miller and even mad hatters like Glenn Beck. But most of all a revolt needs casus belli; a singular cause that bonds to purpose. Otherwise, there is no rebellion. There is an issue today that qualifies: land.
The most important thing that has happened in the last two years is that the states have discovered that they don’t have to do what the federal government tells them to do, I said to a small group of New Hampshire mountaineers one year ago this month. It is one thing to say this in school basements before a few handfuls of New Hampshire’s hill people, where “live free or die” can be seen tattooed on forearms. It is expected of us. But when the same sentiments are presented at the button-down CPAC 2012 convention in Washington, D.C., as they will be tomorrow, something different is happening here. Liberal commentator Pat Goddell has suggested that the Tea Party these past two years has brought us to a “pre-revolutionary” state. For the last two years libertarian Ron Paul has been the overwhelming favorite of conservatives’ rising generation at CPAC. This year CPAC features a film produced and directed by Jason Rink exploring the history of state nullification, its constitutional legitimacy and how states can use nullification to push back against the encroachment of federal power.
“One size does not fit all" was the catch phrase I used in my early complaints, and Romney first used the phrase publicly. He was clearly suggesting a change in format and a historic change of outlook. Truth is, it was only after the Tea Party event at the Alamo that state and regional autonomy became a real and advancing possibility. So when Gov. Romney suggested early on that his Massachusetts healthcare plan go national, he was merely advancing it from the “initiative state” of Massachusetts to the vast generic, continent-wide model of governance, the only way ideas had come to practice in the United States since 1865. But after the nationwide, grassroots Tea Party uprisings of April 2009, a more practical and efficient system tailored to regions and states became a real possibility. Nixon had tried earlier to regionalize, but the model he used was ineffective as it did not follow the natural cultural contours of America and the timing was all wrong. But Romney could see now that the times had at last changed enough to mobilize a more creative and efficient management model. Provided that leadership had the prodigious management skills that he has.
President Obama’s invitation to Bush family members to the White House makes him seem an Everyman, all things to all people, and Caroline Kennedy’s open letter to vote for Obama a second time because her name is Kennedy — both mark the turning of the times, and suggest that Obama, like the Kennedys and the Bushes, is no longer a rising part of the times.
We have left the age of two-family politics, honoring Northeastern gentry who bask in Kennebunkport or Hyannis, and have entered instead into a full-bore Jacksonian heartland awakening. Tea Party has taken the mantle these past two years. But Jacksonian populism, channeled today by Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Ron and Rand Paul, all started in Virginia with Mudcat Saunders.
New England was a Jeffersonian region of independent-minded yeoman farmers and freethinking independents before the Civil War. We lost that earthy colloquialism to the abstraction of federalism after teaming up for the conquest of the West and the South in 1857 and 1865, and again to globalism after the conquest of Europe and Asia in 1946. But today New England begins to find its yeoman soul again. We have always been Jeffersonian. We just forgot. When it starts to catch on, any step outside the prescribed constitutional reservation by the feds will be considered overreach, domination, totalitarianism. And it is starting to catch on. The National Defense Authorization Act is a giant step in the direction of the benign American police state.