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Posts published in “Day: September 17, 2016”

Redoubter doubt

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In this time of Trump, let’s review the Redoubt.

Idahoans have had an awareness of this sort-of phenomenon for some time, especially but not exclusively those in the north. It is listed in Wikipedia, where the descriptive article about it begins, “The American Redoubt is a political migration movement first proposed in 2011 by best-selling survivalist novelist and blogger James Wesley Rawles which designates three states in the northwestern United States (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming), and adjoining portions of two other states (eastern Oregon, and eastern Washington) as a safe haven for conservative, libertarian-leaning Christians and Jews.”

It isn’t just a call from a messiah, though. An article about the Redoubt from last May in the Spokane Spokesman-Review was headlined, “Extreme right invites like-minded to region.”

The area overall is said to have attracted thousands of people, though no one knows for sure how many.

No one knows for sure what its political impact may be, either.

It sounds like the kind of movement that might find common cause with the Donald Trump campaign, and maybe many of its people do. That too is hard to know, because so many of them are determinedly off the grid, unallied with large organizations, even those as disorganized as the Trump campaign.

But if so, it does not seem to be taking over. In Idaho, the core of the Redoubt area is in the Panhandle, and in the May primary election Texas Senator Ted Cruz won all of the Panhandle except for Shoshone County(a relatively lightly-populated area); Trump won mainly in the areas that were more remote still, outside the areas usually classed as the Redoubt.

A late August article in the Washington Post on the Redoubt, a well-crafted piece focusing on Idaho, missed most of the recent electoral context, which extended beyond the presidential level.

An opinion piece on the Spokesman-Review web site on September 1 noted, “reasonable Republicans largely prevailed during the Idaho primary in May. Kootenai County Sheriff Ben Wolfinger easily beat his ‘constitutionalist’ sheriff opponent. Jim Chmelik, one of the region’s leading proponents for public land takeovers, lost his bid for re-election as Idaho County commissioner. Four far-right incumbent legislators in North Idaho were defeated. So, in the short term, it would appear as if the majority of Idahoans haven’t bought into the fear-based agenda of the extreme right. They don’t envision teeming hordes streaming out of the Lilac City.”

I don’t mean here to conflate the Redoubters of today with the Aryan Nations Neo-Nazi gaggle of yesteryear – gone now, happily, for more than a decade – except for this: The actual numerical influence of both probably has been and now is being overstated. Back in the Aryans’ day, some member of that tribe (on one occasion, head honcho Richard Butler himself) would run for a local office, and invariably collect no more than a handful of votes, losing in an overwhelming rout. That part of the Aryan story didn’t often get as much play as their parades or other activities that seemed to puff up their visibility and seeming size and influence.

That could change with the Redoubters. In theory, it could affect this next election. But I’ll believe it when I see it.

Trump 53: Constitutionally limited?

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The other day I spoke with a man who had been a Bernie Sanders supporter during the primary season and, disappointed now that he would not be in the general election, was considering voting for a third party candidate: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump weren't all that different, he said. I challenged him on that, pointing out of some of the things Trump had said and proposed. His response to this was airy: Congress, and the Supreme Court, will keep him in line, he said.

My response was that in the case of a candidate who knew and cared so little about the restraints the constitution places on the presidency, that might matter little.

Or, more concisely, I might have quoted Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

In one version of the story, Stalin and Winston Churchill were discussing forces at work across Europe amid World War II. Churchill talked about not upsetting the moral clout of the Vatican, when Stalin interrupted to ask, “How many divisions does the Pope of Rome have?”

In that telling of the story, "Stalin reaffirmed that he only respected force, and brought Churchill back down to earth from the nebulous heavens."

Remind you of anyone? Someone who might well ask how many divisions the Supreme Court or Congress has? After all, their practical "power" is based on our mutual willingness to accept the terms of the Constitution.

The perception that Trump has little regard for the founding document has been widespread, pointed out perhaps most forcefully by Khizr Khan, the Gold Star parent who offered to lend Trump his personal pocket copy if he needed some review.

On July 7 Trump spoke with members of the House Republican caucus and was asked if he would stand up for the constitution. “Not only will I stand up for Article One,” Trump replied (in remarks quoted later). “I'll stand up for Article Two, Article 12, you name it, of the Constitution.” The punch line being, of course, that is there is no Article 12 (there are only seven).

Pundit Andrew Sullivan suggested that “This is what is at stake – the core values of this country under threat from a man who has no understanding of the Constitution he would swear to uphold.” - rs