Undermining government from within
If, as an elected official, you justify armed insurrection against the United States, you practice sedition.
If, as an elected judge you ignore Supreme Court rulings, and demand others ignore the law, you practice sedition.
If, as a state official, you refuse to follow the laws of the land, you practice sedition.
If, as a federal elected officeholder you undermine the very government you have sworn to uphold, you practice sedition.
Sedition is conduct or language used to undermine the authority of a state and until recently was a practice unheard of in the United States.
But times have changed and our Republican friends have breeched the once forbidden concept of sedition by their words, more than in isolation, more frequently than rarely, and with less guile than directness.
Last week several armed men in Oregon took over some federal buildings in protest against the federal government. Those sympathetic to their cause, like Republican Representative Raul Labrador of Idaho, claimed it an act of “civil disobedience.” But civil disobedience is demonstrating in public against a law you oppose and facing the legal consequences for your actions. Martin Luther King practiced civil disobedience and spent many nights in Southern jails for his choices. Armed men taking over a federal facility is nothing other than sedition, rebellion against lawful government.
Likewise, when Alabama Republican Supreme Court Justice Roy Clark this week directed officials in Alabama to stop issuing marriage licenses to gay couples he violated his oath to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution. But by ordering others to follow his insurrection Clark also practiced sedition against the federal government. Last May U.S. District judge Callie Granade directed Alabama probate judges to issue marriage licenses regardless of sexual orientation, stating clearly that her ruling superseded any decision by the Alabama Supreme Court.
As a state official, Kim Davis practiced civil disobedience in refusing to issue marriage licenses to Gay couples, for which she spent a short time in jail. But among her supporters stood a Republican presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee, who declared that gay marriage is still illegal in spite of the Supreme Court ruling to the contrary. Were Huckabee elected president and refused to enforce a Supreme Court decision he would undermine the entire judiciary system and throw the balance of federal power into chaos. Is it then sedition to advocate to ignore the Supreme Court?
Congressman Labrador went on to justify the act of sedition in Oregon “You have just a frustration that they feel the federal government is not listening to them anymore…” Labrador went on to say. Congressman, are you in the least aware that you ARE part of the federal government, and that your role is to provide oversight to government agencies? Are you even remotely aware that if citizens feel their government is not responsive your job is not to cheer them on, but to address the problems and issues they face as citizens?
Government is undermined from within when our elected officials damn the very government they oversee, fund, and legalize with the passage of legislation.
Republicans started down this dark path with Ronald Reagan declaring “government is the problem.” If government is the problem, fixing government is the solution and our Republican friends have turned away from the solution by failing to govern while controlling Congress.
We are a large nation with diverse interests, beliefs, and convictions, all held together by our history and our spirit of accomplishment. America works when we all stand together in respect of our laws and system.
Freedom and sedition are antithetical to each other.
Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.