David Poythress, former Georgia labor commissioner and secretary of state and now Democratic candidate for governor, is trying to make an issue out of Republican support for the concept of secession. Good for him. If this video is any evidence, he may actually succeed.
I do have my problems with the video. Poythress also served as head of the Georgia National Guard, attaining the rank of major general, and he clearly intends to ride that service record hard. That’s smart politics, and it’s fine. But in the video Poythress uses that as a cudgel, belittling his opponents who did not wear the uniform and suggesting they somehow have less right to speak out and perform the duties of a citizen. That’s just wrong, and it’s as contradictory to American values as the secession talk he condemns.
On the matter of secession, however, Poythress has it exactly right. Four of the six GOP candidates for governor, including the three frontrunners, have voiced support for the concept. And it’s nuts, and people should say so.
Apologists for the four — State Sen. Eric Johnson, Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, Secretary of State Karen Handel and Ray McBerry — have tried to suggest in various ways that they don’t really mean it. The problem is that all four have said they strongly support Senate Resolution 632, which passed 43-1 with little notice or debate this spring.
Johnson voted for it and says he would do so again. Oxendine says that if he were a legislator, he would vote for and even sponsor the resolution. McBerry and a spokesman for Handel say they too support it.
They don’t say they understand the frustration behind the resolution but think it goes too far. They don’t say they think that the federal government sometimes overreaches, but that secession and nullification are lunatic responses. Quite the contrary, they have embraced the resolution with no reservations.
Among other wacky things, such as claiming that states can decide “how far the licentiousness of speech and of the press may be abridged,” the resolution they support explicitly endorses secession and a dismantling of the Union if Congress takes any number of steps, such as additional gun control laws. Given the language of the measure, I also suspect that passage of the Fairness Doctrine would be considered grounds for abolishing the union.
The resolution further states that once the nation has been dismantled into 50 separate countries, “Any future government of the United States of America shall require ratification of three quarters of the States seeking to form a government of the United States of America and shall not be binding upon any State not seeking to form such a government.”
That’s what it says. Point blank. Now, if the GOP candidates were wrong to support a resolution that extreme, they should tell their fellow Georgians that and apologize. But they can’t tell their party’s alienated fringe that they support such ridiculous, dangerous nonsense and then expect the rest of the state to just ignore it. If they are going to be that beholden to the far far right of their party, the rest of us need to know that when we go to the voting booth.
And so far, the four Republican candidates in question have not uttered a word to suggest otherwise.