Sharron Angle was my State Assemblywoman. God help us all if my home state makes her a U.S. Senator.
by Scott Daniel // October 26, 2010
Here’s something I’ll bet you’ve never heard about. In 1999, a group of anti-federal activists staged a protest in the Jarbidge Wilderness of Northeastern Nevada. Literally armed with pick-axes and shovels, participants in the so-called “Jarbidge Rebellion” defied the will of the U.S. Forest Service. The Service had closed a single dirt road that allegedly threatened the natural habitat of the bull trout in the nearby river. Modeling their efforts after the Boston Tea Party, the rebels occupied the road and declared their frustration with what they perceived to be the menacing overreach of the federal government.
387 miles away in Reno, my high school government class followed this minor mutiny in bemused fascination. Even then, as a young conservative, I was uncomfortable with the idea of resorting to revolutionary tactics for what were clearly light and transient reasons. Most dismissed this group as extremist, with little hope of ever seriously competing for attention in the political mainstream.
This was 1999. We should have been paying more attention. This was the year that Sharron Angle first began her service in the Nevada State Assembly, echoing the voices rising from the Jarbidge Wilderness.
Assemblywoman Angle’s brand of paleo-conservatism, like that of the Jarbidge rebels, has garnered significant national attention of late. The national media seized on her strikingly ill-advised campaign ad depicting illegal immigrants as sullied Mexicans seeking to steal the college educations of upstanding white kids. Unfortunately, her Southern Baptist mores have steered her clear of witchcraft, putting her at a significant gotcha-exposure disadvantage against Delaware’s Christine O’Donnell. Between the two Palin acolytes, however, Sharron Angle threatens to do far more damage in Washington. Unlike the lagging O’Donnell, Angle is in a statistical dead heat with Democrat Harry Reid – Nevada’s long-serving senior Senator, the Senate Majority Leader and somehow the most hated man in Nevada politics.
Voter vexation with Reid is palpable. I won’t delve into why here; suffice it to say, though, that it is enough to put Angle within striking distance of the Senate. Credit the strength of the local Tea Party for Angle’s victory in the Republican primary in Nevada, a state with a miles-deep current of anti-government sentiment. Her shocking competitiveness in the general election is the product of the trending spirit of ABR: Anybody But Reid.
Nevada voters, I caution you in the hopes of saving you (and the rest of the nation) from a severe case of buyer’s remorse. As the assemblywoman for Nevada’s 26th district, where I once resided, Sharron Angle exemplified a brand of emergent conservative populism that is at once rigid, nihilistic and destructive, built on the shaky foundation of an imagined history and an anachronistic view of the Constitution.
You say you can’t stomach voting for Harry Reid. Please hear my case for why you can’t afford to vote for Sharron Angle.
Citizen Legislators Must Be Competent to Legislate, and Sharron Angle is Not Competent
One of the principal arguments advanced by Angle supporters in particular and the Tea Party in general is that the Founders intended for Congress to be populated by “citizen legislators”, so-called because they are not “career politicians” who otherwise lose touch with everyday Americans. This creates an effective polemic barrier to any questions of experience or competence leveled against candidates who are woefully ill-equipped for the jobs for which they apply. Republicans advanced the same arguments in 1994 when they promised, in the “Contract with America” platform they substantially breached, to impose term limits on Congress.
This is a half-truth. The Founders did prefer citizen legislators, but not at the expense of core competence. A prerequisite for a citizen legislator is ability. Intelligence. Reason. Familiarity with the world and its workings.
Sharron Angle appears strikingly unfamiliar with the world. Earlier this month, she told a group of supporters that the cities of Dearborn, Michigan and Frankford, Texas operate under Islamic Sharia law. At the very least, Dearborn does have a significant Muslim population. Frankford, Texas, on the other hand, does not have a significant population period, primarily because it does not exist.
According to Sharron Angle, neither does autism…
I really shouldn’t have to use these factual predicates to string together an analogy or syllogism. I don’t want to insult you. Because you, dear reader, are competent enough to let these statements bake into your brain for a few moments and render unto you your own conclusion.
Sharron Angle Has a (Selective) Fetish for the Founding Fathers
A good rule of thumb for this election and all future elections: beware the candidate who claims to stand on the Constitution but doesn’t actually know it. This is a recurring trend among the Tea Party crowd that clings to the incorrect belief that the Constitution creates a government so small you can drown it in a bath tub – or overthrow it with your Winchester when the mood strikes you.
This was the folly of the Jarbidge Rebellion, and it is the folly of the Tea Party and Sharron Angle. Earlier this year, Angle suggested that if the government were to overstep its boundaries, then the citizens would have the right to resort to “Second Amendment remedies.” There really is only one meaning for this: actual armed rebellion. The ideological thrust behind this statement is the “right of revolution” espoused by philosopher John Locke in the 17th century, adopted as the justification for the American Revolution and embodied in the Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson.
Aside from the obvious practical lunacy of advocating violent insurrection, Angle’s and the Tea Party’s application of this principle to the federal government in 2010 is off. Jefferson himself cautioned in the Declaration that wielding arms to protect your natural rights should not be undertaken for “light and transient causes”. In other words, it’s appropriate to do so when King George has taken to quartering troops in your home. It is not appropriate when the forest ranger closes down a dirt road or when Congress passes a taxing or spending bill you disagree with.
This is symptomatic of the wider philosophical prism that distorts the light that Sharron Angle sees. Like her Tea Party counterparts across the country, she wants to party like it’s 1789. Angle and those like her believe that the Constitution creates a strict, rigid restriction on the government performing anything but a few functions. This is her justification for her calls to devolve and privatize Social Security, to dismantle the Departments of Education and Energy and to completely abolish the IRS.
Against this argument, I present to you Thomas Jefferson himself, in an 1810 letter:
I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.
What he said.
Think the Senate is Obstructionist Now? Baby, You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet
Nevada has a significant revenue problem in the same way that it has a significant water problem. This is due, in part, to the lack of a stable state income tax. Nevada’s general antipathy toward taxes goes hand-in-hand with its anti-government stance: generated by the false constitutionalism that Angle advocates.
Thus, when the state faced a significant budget shortfall in 2003, moderate and reasonable Republican Governor Kenny Guinn sought a middle ground to generate revenue without imposing an income tax, primarily in order to meet the state’s Constitutional requirement that education be funded first. Despite GOP opposition in the legislature, Guinn pushed to pass the taxes by a simple majority in a special legislative session – even though Nevada voters had amended the Constitution to require a two-thirds majority for tax increases.
Why did Guinn do this? Because Angle and a cadre of Republican legislators had blocked all efforts to increase revenue and thus passed a budget with exactly zero dollars for education. In essence, Angle and Company were willing to utterly sacrifice one constitutional requirement in zealous defense of another.
It is one thing to stand on principle when life and liberty are at stake. It is quite another to so rigidly stand firm on one constitutional mandate against another constitutional mandate when funding for public schools is at stake. Unless, of course, Ms. Angle wanted the 49th-ranked public education system in the country to finance for an entire academic year through bond debt.
And Sharron Angle is allegedly a former teacher.
You can expect the same brand of obstructionism from U.S. Senator Sharron Angle.
So why is all of this important? Because when you pull the trigger to kick Harry Reid out of office, you are also replacing him with someone else.
You owe it to yourself, your state and your country to at least capture a snapshot of who that replacement is. In this case, we have Sharron Angle. A woman with a wrong and dangerously anachronistic view of the Constitution who lacks basic civic literacy and social skills and who will stop at nothing to stop everything.
I recently engaged in a conversation with an acquaintance from Nevada. She told me that nothing I could say to her would persuade her against voting for Sharron Angle. She reasoned that Harry Reid had “done too much” and was “too powerful” in the Senate, so it was time to start fresh with somebody without much influence or power. Well, I truly believe that if Nevadans elect Sharron Angle, her wish will come to fruition. At this juncture, even the Senate GOP Conference has indicated that it wants nothing to do with her.
No matter how you slice it, “right” is not the proper term for this Angle. There is another word that more aptly describes her: obtuse.
Sources: CNN, Christine O’Donnell for U.S. Senate, Real Clear Politics, The Daily Kos, Examiner.com, Wikipedia, Las Vegas Sun, Las Vegas Review-Journal, The Huffington Post, Quoteworld, Politico, My News 4 (Las Vegas).
Photo credit: Bay News 9.