Walter Rhett

Right or Obtuse: Measuring Sharron Angle

In Perlo on July 7, 2010 at 12:31 pm

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I have an important question for Sharron Angle.

To the Republican nominee running against Senate Leader, Democrat Harry Reid in Nevada: Do “second amendment remedies” for disagreements over government policies extend to state legislatures and county and city councils, or should “second amendment remedies” just be confined to the federal government? Exactly how will this work.

I ask because I heard a recorded interview you did with a broadcaster during which you claimed. “our founding fathers, they put that second amendment in there for a good reason; and that was for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannical government” . . .(you cited Thomas Jefferson, hope we don’t have a revolution, but added) . . “if this government keeps going the way it is, people are looking toward those second amendment remedies, saying what can we do to turn this Congress around and the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out . . .” [my transcript, /wr; http://bit.ly/aO7awu].


Obviously, she’s not talking about shooting Harry Reid, or calling for his assassination. Angle is skillfully using a rhetorical device; its ambiguity hammers home her point. But the irony of her pun belies its violence.


Angle touts her gun ownership and says she uses a “Dirty Harry canon.” But her words are a casual endorsement of extreme actions. Like an unlocked hand gun, her words are irresponsible and dangerous. Her example citing a founding American principle belittles the democratic process she wants to win, distorts the purpose of the second amendment and borders on sedition.

Her remarks could get people killed.

So I ask, how far is she willing to go?

Is the right “to keep and bear arms,” more important than feeding the hungry, tending the sick, comforting the dying or educating the youth, or adding jobs to the economy?

After all, a state senator in nearby Utah has called for the abolishment of 12th grade in Utah high schools to save $102 million; does Angle also support such drastic non-violent spending cuts?

Is she lured only by “lock and load?” How far down and when should these “remedies” begin?

Ms. Angle has called questions about her comments, “nitpicking”(http://bit.ly/aLnHWC+). She blames Harry Reid, her opponent, for the discussion and media focus; it’s his policies she feels are wrong and his party is tone deaf to American protests.

But the rub is Reid and the Democrats who control the Senate and House were elected, state by state, district by district, poll by poll. They were elected by the ballot. Not by the bullet.

Sharron Angle has raised more than $1.4 million and has over 5,000 facebook friends. Her race with Reid is neck and neck. Yet her websites are spare with specifics.

So I want to know does she believe that the second amendment guarantees and encourages citizens to put up arms to overturn the government? Don’t we settle our differences by elections? Don’t we put forth our vision for society by legislation?

Do we want a country run by warlords, all claiming as warlords do, that they represent the people’s vision?

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There was a time when politicians who were clever with words and ideas got laughs, built loyalty by their wit, and deflated their opponents by exposing the absurdity of their positions.

Now campaign rhetoric is driven by a lower standard: anger. Anger is this year’s requisite quality for high office. Anger and a determined obstinacy that is unwilling to explain political positions, discuss specifics, offer details, describe the impact of policies, or deflate their own rhetoric.

I recall a historic exception to the idea that the second amendment levels the political playing field, or can be used to accurately reflect the people’s will.

Mrs. Angle makes no mention of it, but the second amendment has often been widely used to support tyranny at lower levels of society, especially here in Charleston, after the American revolution. Here’s just one example, from the Charleston Gazette newspaper reported in 1817, “that the victim of an attempted robbery struck a slave running away in the skull with a “musket lock,” killing him. Upon the judge’s hearing and recommendation, the slave’s head was severed, foisted on a pike, and displayed “at the cross roads, near Ashley Ferry.”

This was the result of second amendment rights exercised by those who resisted government tyranny with the support and endorsement of others with like minds.


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But in 1817, politicians also engaged in rigorous debate, writing long detailed treatises, citing historic examples. Mrs. Angle seems to have reduced the current political discussion to sound bites, given to those she favors, who receive her pronouncements without any examination of her views or concrete specifics. This is dangerous because it exempts her from accountability, from buying into the long tradition that has stood the country in good stead of politicians setting down their views in detail so that the electorate can given those ideas carefully consideration.

Rigorous debate improves the process. Blaming your opponents, parodying our celebrated revolution, wrapping yourself in its cloak without the sacrifice or commitment to upholding its democratic values of accepting and working with your political opponents making holding office a farce. The American ideal of democracy was unheard of anywhere in the world until it became an American norm.

It is worthy of being maintained. It should not be lightly treaded on. And those who suggest a “second amendment remedy” to its issues and current miasma should have a lot of questions to answer.

That is a first amendment right. It is a longstanding remedy for our differences. It has worked effectively for more than 200 years. Let’s hope Sharron Angle answers questions and proudly put the remedies of discussion and explanation guaranteed by the first amendment to good use.

Thanks for reading! /wr. Stir the Perlo, leave a comment.(All photos used under fair use; creative common license for educational use.
2006 Washington DC parade.
Pennslyvania parade.
Afghan photos provided by ISAF Public Affairs, isafmedia; from the ISAF facebook photo album. http://bit.ly/crCQSS.)

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