Republican Party

It’s Getting Hard to Tell Where Sovereign Citizens End and Republicans Begin

It is probably safe to say at this point that no enemy, foreign or domestic, hates the United States Constitution as passionately as the Republican Party. If they are not pretending it is somehow biblically based – despite zero mentions of God, the Bible, or the Ten Commandments – they are violating the First Amendment or the No Religious Test Clause (Article 6, paragraph 3), or half-a-dozen or more amendments.

Just as the Bible has apparently become one long anti-gay diatribe, the Constitution, to their eyes, has become the sum of the Second and the Tenth Amendments, and nothing much beyond that. And it scarce needs be mentioned that they have turned government of the people, by the people, and for the people, into government of, by, and for the corporations.

So it should come as no surprise that they regularly argue (and even try to back it up with legislation) that federal laws are meaningless (remember that Montana bill a couple of years ago that would have allowed FBI agents to be arrested for making arrests? Or Missouri Republicans who wanted to nullify federal gun laws and arrest federal agents?).

This is a strange species of patriotism being advanced by the GOP, you have to admit.

As the federal government has become demonized, Neo-Confederate secessionists have found the Republican Party amenable to their own goals, and now Larry Pratt of the Gun Owners of America has essentially crawled into bed with the sovereign citizen movement the other day – the people who reject ALL U.S. laws under the fiction that they themselves are not citizens.

Pratt appeared on VCY America’s Crosstalk Tuesday and fielded a call from a Wisconsin sovereign citizen who said, “I just wondered if somebody of your stature would stand up and scream from the rooftops that these 60 million codes and regulations don’t apply to us, only to U.S. citizens.”

Oh, those old laws don’t matter anyway, Pratt said:

Well, I think you can make the same point with another argument, that the body of, the corpus of law and regulations you’re pointing to, almost none of it comes under the Constitution. It gives powers to the federal government that were not given to the federal government in the Constitution. They should be stricken.

An interesting assertion coming from a representative of the party most often violating the Constitution with its legislation. But the striking thing is that while this man self-identified as a sovereign citizen, he could easily be mistaken for a Republican.

Pratt even said the federal movement and the court should not be involving themselves in the marriage equality question (funny how Republicans think differently when the government and courts agree with them), saying, it’s “not something for the federal government or the federal judiciary to be sticking their nose into.”

The United States Constitution says differently.

I realize Republicans hate history – our own history in particular – but there is defending the status quo, and then there is thinking you can go back in time to a status quo that hasn’t been a status quo for a couple hundred years. The terms “clown-car” and “crazy bus,” like the Constitution itself, exist for a reason.

It is funny that while closing his eyes to the underpinnings of our shared reality, Larry Pratt should claim that liberals do not live in a fact-based world. After all, Larry Pratt is the guy who said people should use their guns to keep Obama from being a tyrant, and that Obama should be impeached because of “Pagan” gun safety laws.

Pratt, who accuses other people of not living in a fact-based world, is perfectly described by the Southern Poverty Law Center:

Larry Pratt stands at the intersection of guns and Jesus, lobbying for absolutely unrestricted distribution of firearms while advocating a theocratic society based upon Old Testament civil and religious laws. A pivotal figure in the rise of right-wing militia, or “Patriot,” groups, he spoke at the notorious 1992 “Gathering of Christian Men” in Estes Park, Colo., where 160 neo-Nazis, Klan members, anti-Semitic Christian Identity adherents and others arguably laid the groundwork for the militia movement that would explode in 1994. He believes that white Christians must arm themselves for self-protection in the inevitable social implosions and riots that are soon to come.

David Corn wrote at Mother Jones the other day that guns are “an issue of primal importance to the Republican voting base.” It’s a shame they don’t feel the same way about facts.

And here’s the thing: laws are laws. If you don’t like them, you don’t get to ignore them. You work to change them. That’s what the courts are for (unless you are the Kochs, and then you just buy Congress), and the Supreme Court spends its time, as the Constitution says it should, puzzling these arcane matters out – and obviously, not always getting it right (Citizens United, anyone?).

What all this brouhaha amounts to for people like Pratt is that any law he doesn’t approve of is unlawful. He can claim the Supreme Court should not be “sticking its nose into” marriage equality, but as this is a First Amendment issue, the Fourteenth Amendment says otherwise.

If the Civil War had not taken place, we might not have the Fourteenth Amendment. But it did, and we do. Laws that once might have applied only to the federal government now apply to the states as well.

By the same token, if the Articles of Confederation had worked, we would not have the Constitution. But they didn’t, and we do. We cannot go back and undo the Civil War, and we can’t go back to the Articles of Confederation. Time only flows one direction.

The good news is, they say time heals all wounds. Even open sores like Larry Pratt. Take heart from that.

Meanwhile, of course, both Republicans and these so-called sovereign citizens are citizens and therefore subject to federal authority. If they are not, maybe we should rethink deportation laws. Obviously, we have plenty of people willing to abide by the laws in order to become citizens of this great country.

They’re literally lining up at the door – and unlike sovereign citizens, paying taxes – for a chance to be the citizen Pratt and his sovereign citizen friend, refuses to be.

Hrafnkell Haraldsson

Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen's Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.

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