Graycoat Conservatives – The Neo-Confederate Secessionists
by Brian T. Lynch, MSW
They are still small in number, but spread widely across the county. They are articulate, highly motivated and influential members within the Tea Party, the Christian right movement, Libertarians groups and nationalist groups in every state. They are the philosophic rear guard of the conservative movement pulling conservatives ever further to the right. They may not have a central organization, but they do have a significant social media presence. They remain under the radar of the national press which fails to take them seriously. The best way to find them is to type “secessionist” into your internet search engine. They are the Neo-Confederates, a polarizing counter-force behind the growing rift in the Republican Party.
The secessionists anti-government interests overlap with the corporate conservative wing of the Republican Party, and both groups favor free market economics, but the graycoat conservatives envision a very different America. So while wealthy conservatives continue to fund the Tea Party, graycoat conservatives are busy winning over hearts and minds to their radical alternative.
The following graphic is taken from one of the many secessionist Websites. It maps the number of secessionist petitioners from around the country. In effect it shows where they are most active and how they are distributed across the country. It doesn’t represent how popular or unpopular the movement might be.
Plotting whitehouse.gov secession petitions
Signers to White House secession petitions by county. Color based on proportion of residents signing, with darker colors showing higher levels of secession support. Current as of 9am on Saturday, November 24th. Works best in Chrome or Safari.
Update: It looks like the secession petition movement has peaked.
Since Election Day, more than 60 petitions have been posted on the White House’s website requesting that states be allowed to withdraw from the United States and create their own government. As of November 13, 2012, the following states had active petitions: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Virginias, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. [http://www.unc.edu/~ncaren/secessionists/]
A 2009 Zogby poll quoted on a number of secessionist Websites found that 20% of American’s believe states have a right to secede from the Union. Just today (12/18/13) Michael Hill, President of one of the Southern groups called League of the South, posted ten reasons for secession. They are:
- The U. S. government is an organized criminal enterprise, secession is the only way to return to legitimate government
- The U. S. economy is failing, secession makes economic sense
- The South’s unique history and culture is worth protecting
- The criminal nature of the bank bailouts and the Fed
- A dysfunctional national electoral system, secession may be the only way to restore integrity to elections
- Third World immigration into the South, secession removes the federal government’s interference and lack of performance
- Organic community vs. the globalism of the elites
- The implementation of an American police/surveillance state
- The Christian South v. secular America, secession provides the opportunity to return to Our Founding Principles
10. Because we think we can rule ourselves better than we are being ruled by DC, secession is a path to American Liberty http://dixienet.org/rights/2013/reasons_for_secession.php]
What these secessionist groups most have in common is a desire to facilitate the collapse of the Federal Government and the breakup of the Union of States. They see this as the natural and inevitable course of history. As they see it, every great empire has followed this path.
They oppose all forms of collectivism and eschew society as we know it. Among some groups there is a distinct “cultural” component. All groups seem to reject democratic majority rule. As one of them put it to me, ”
According to one person who wrote me, they are, “… committed to the cause of individual liberty and [individual] sovereignty. [They] would prefer secession, to revolution.” But revolution it will be if the majority opinion of the Americans go against them. They have a strong patriotic connection to our founding fathers even though their commitment to our Union is weak. Pin them down and they reluctantly choose the union of states over a return to a confederacy, but only if the Federal governments control over the states is weakened and individuals are free from all federal interference.
If you start to pin these folks down in a debate they squirm away. They are viscerally opposed to the our system of government, their anti-federal rage concealed only by their passion for an extreme interpretation of individual rights and freedoms. These passions are covered over by a thin veneer of selective scholarship. Scratch the scholarship and their passion flares. Challenge their constitutional interpretations and they circle the wagons.
They have no sense of responsibility towards society and nothing but contempt for majority rule. They believe the majority of American’s is just another special interest group, and one that is biased against minority rights. When majorities opinions prevail they force minorities to accede to their will which violates their rights. This is how they interpret the Constitution.
The only legitimate role they see for the federal government is the protection of the individual’s right to follow their conscience within Constitutionally defined boundaries. One major flashpoint seems to be taxes. They don’t want to pay any federal taxes, but when pressed say they agree to contribute only for spending within the limits of their narrow interpretation of the governments enumerated powers.
They resent being forced to pay taxes for national parks, education, environmental protection, food and drug administration, foreign diplomacy administration or anything else that isn’t specifically named in our Constitution. They claim a sovereign right not to pay for anything outside of the federal governments enumerated powers, as they define it. They reject all collectivism. For example they resent that the Federal government spends any money on highways and bridges, believing federal spending should be restricted to “postal roads.”
As one person wrote: ” For [the federal government] to “do” it must take. That violates rights. The only function of [government] is protect rights, not “do.”
Tenth Amendment: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
The 10th Amendment is the source of their narrow interpretation of federal powers. Their interpretation provides all the justification they require. Below is a reprint from one of their Websites that lists the enumeration of federal powers which they feel the government has exceeded. These powers are listed on the Tenth Amendment Center Website where the members call themselves “Tenthers.: [http://tenthamendmentcenter.com/]
Disdain for the Federal Government or any large democracy is a central feature for these neo-confederate groups. They see majority as a special interest and would strip the government of its ability to show any favoritism to all special interests. This suggests that the only role of government must be the protection of the individuals rights yet they may concede collective rights to businesses. Perhaps this is why it is so important that corporations be viewed as people. It gives them individual status while denying other types of organization status as a collective entity.
MIDDLEBURY INSTITUTE PAPER V
March 2007 – Introduction to “Minimal Rights and Freedoms of Individuals in a Sovereign State”
Because questions keep coming up as to the kinds of states that secessionist organizations are working toward, and because each organization in the movement has an interest in the objectives of any other organization, it seemed to us here that it might be appropriate to send out a suggested platform of the rights and freedoms that might be guaranteed to individuals in any future seceded state. [SNIP] There are important issues here and we hope you take them seriously.
MINIMAL RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS OF INDIVIDUALS IN A SOVEREIGN STATE
Life, liberty, security
Equality before the law
Trial before competent tribunal, due process, counsel, appeal
Possess property and not be arbitrarily deprived thereof
Periodic elections with universal adult suffrage
Secession by any coherent unit
Speech, opinion, expression in any media
Peaceable assembly, association
Belief, thought, religion, worship
Movement within any state, and to leave and return
Slavery or servitude
Discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion,
political belief, nationality, property, or birth
Torture or degrading treatment
Arbitrary arrest or detention
Invasion of privacy
Arbitrary deprivation of citizenship
Any action by the state to destroy or deny any of these rights and freedoms
Middlebury Institute, February 2007
Second Vermont Republic, March 2007
Southern National Congress Committee, March 2007
The role of a state to infringe on individual rights is not well thought out among members of this group. Because states are smaller they believe them to be inherently less intrusive in the lives of individuals. They consider themselves to have an individual right to not be “interfered with” by any government, but apparently feel that smaller, state governments would be easier to control. In a large constitutional democracy, such as the United States, a majority opinion is viewed as a form of tyranny against individual dissenters, even if that majority opinion is deemed constitutional according the the Supreme Court. On the other hand, they don’t see anything wrong with a minority group preventing the majority from governing in opposition to them. They see this as their right and duty as “soverigien citizens.” It isn’t clear whether this is true only when the minority feels the government is legislating beyond its enumerated powers, or if they claim this right under all circumstances. As one person put it:
“But you don’t see that resisting (but not compelling) action from a majority isn’t a tyranny of the minority? The minority isn’t forcing the majority to do anything, only to refrain from forcing the minority to do something. The rights of any minority supersede the wants or needs of any majority.”
In the face debt ceiling financial cliffs, government shut downs, and the nearly total inability of Congress to pass legislation, it is time to recognize that there are forces on the far right, and in Congress, who see this as successful strategy. Their intentions are malevolent and quite contrary to the motivations most often attributed to them by political analysts in the main stream press. It is time to pay attention to these groups and their impact on American politics. A failure to open a public debate that directly confronts both the graycoat secessionists and the corporate elite now would be a huge mistake.