Militarizing Politics

Via Digby, I see that Sarah Palin and her own private security force have recently engaged in exactly the same sort of bullying, anti-free speech behavior as Joe Miller and his paramilitary guards. Shannyn Moore reports:

Sarah Palin & company spent several days in Homer filming her “Sarah Palin’s Uh-laska” show. (Eyes rolled).

On the public dock, private security patted down private citizens. The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unreasonable search and seizure from their government. Private security searching private citizens in a public place, doesn’t fall under that category. It’s a bit more hinky.

Whether it was TLC or the Palins who contracted security, under what authority did they operate in a public location? Were they looking for weapons? Well, now there’s a Second Amendment issue.

This is Alaska, we carry guns. You can open-carry or acquire a concealed weapons permit from the state. If you are a law abiding citizen, you don’t even need a permit. Sarah Palin recently endorsed Alaska Tea Party Candidate Joe Miller for US Senate. His supporters carried assault rifles in last month’s Golden Days Parade in Fairbanks. If weapons are good enough for a public parade, weapons should be fine at a public dock.

Maybe it wasn’t about guns. Maybe it was about cameras. In that case, it’s a First Amendment issue. Whether Palin had a problem with the First Amendment, the Second Amendment or the Fourth Amendment, she contradicted her entourage’s actions at the Homer dock.

Risking accusations of being all “Wee-Wee’d Up”, one Homer woman made a sign in her shed. She then took the 30-foot-by-3-foot banner out to the boat harbor. It said “WORST GOVERNOR EVER”. Kathleen Gustafson is a teacher married to a local commercial fisherman. She felt like Sarah Palin had let the state down by becoming a dollar-chasing celebrity and ignoring the oath of office she’d sworn on a Bible.

Saturday morning, Billy Sullivan helped Kathleen tape the banner up on his place of business at the top of the boat ramp. Then here she came. Sarah.

She couldn’t just walk by. Only a few fishermen and tourists would have seen the banner, but Sarah had to stop and protest….

Billy Sullivan caught much of the interchange on his cell phone camera. The back of her security guard’s head and Todd Palin attempted to block Billy’s view…

In what has become typical tragic irony, Sarah initially claimed to support Kathleen’s First Amendment Rights. But as soon as Billy Sullivan walked toward the dock, one of Palin’s entourage tore down the sign to great applause from her group.

Todd Palin approached Billy (who owns a business called Dockside Fish and buys halibut on that dock) and asked him to get out of the Discovery crew’s shot. “You just can’t get enough of her, can you?” he asked. An Alaska State Trooper told Billy he should call the Homer Police Department and report the trespassing and destruction of property.

Digby draws this correct conclusion:

This isn’t an Alaskan thing. It’s a teabagger thing. They are authoritarians. They have no respect for others’ individual rights, only their own.

That’s my take too. I lived in Alaska for less than a year, but am consistently saddened by how the authoritarianism and quasi-fascism displayed by Palin and Miller keep giving Alaska a bad name. Palin isn’t just making people militant Tea Partiers in Alaska; she’s actually militarizing politics. Never before had I heard of political supporters openly carrying assault rifles in parades – and I went to plenty of parades when I was working in Alaska politics. This isn’t normal. It isn’t about Alaska being a conservative state (it isn’t), nor is it about being a state were gun ownership is common and open carry is legal. This is about a splinter group who are responding to elections with Second Amendment remedies.

What’s so dangerous about this style of politics put forward by Palin and Miller is that it doesn’t serve the Constitution nor individual freedom. It actually serves pure, tribal Republican politics. Miller and Palin might provide the patina of selfish anger, but at the end of the day, it’s Wall Street banks, outsourcing manufacturers, polluting mining companies, and Social Security privatizer who will reap any benefits won at the ballot box. This doesn’t mitigate the danger of the Palin/Miller sect, but it’s important to remember that their electoral successes won’t lead to some sort of free market paradise, devoid of government intervention. Rather, it will be what it’s always been: a question of how far the GOP can bend the regulatory power of government to create a favorable set of conditions for Wall Street and big corporate executives to reach billions in profits, while driving down the wages and benefits of working Americans. The real consequences for this, beyond the continued militarization of politics on the right, are going to be felt by Americans who desperately need the economy to improve and jobs to be created.

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