Friday, October 24, 2014

Ex–Reagan Aide Wants 3 Southern States to Secede as Republic Named for the Gipper and with Not So Many Gays and Mexicans

In my most recent blog post, I discussed proposals by civic leaders in South Miami, Florida, that the Sunshine State divide in two.  But this week Douglas MacKinnon, a former White House aide, has been promoting an upcoming book which has other plans for Florida: joining South Carolina and Georgia in a new independent republic based on traditional values.  This is in response to what MacKinnon sees as a takeover by gays and lesbians and their erosion of the soul of our republic.  Not only that, but the new nation would be called Reagan, named, naturally after Ronald Reagan (shown below).

No, no, that’s the wrong picture.  This is Ron Reagan, Jr.  No, I mean Ron’s dad, the Gipper.

There, that’s better.

MacKinnon, a conservative Republican columnist who served as speechwriter to both Reagan and President George H. W. Bush (Sr.), explained his views in a radio interview this week, with a strong focus on how modern America has accepted homosexuality as part of the norm. “If you happen to make a donation in favor of traditional marriage, you can lose your job,” he said.  “If you happen to refuse to bake a cake for a gay couple because it goes against your religious beliefs, you can be driven out of business.”  So, according to MacKinnon’s forthcoming book, The Secessionist States of America: The Blueprint for Creating a Traditional Values Country . . . Now, some of the more conservative states should secede so that citizens can grow up in a country where they won’t be forced to bake cakes for gay people.

In the interview, MacKinnon explained his thought process: “We look at what states would be viable in terms of doing something like this.  In fact, what states would provide sort of the new landmass for a new republic dedicated to traditional values.  And the consensus was that the three best states in the union would be South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.”  The otherwise obvious choice of the frequently secessionist-minded Texas is not on the list, he said, because “there have been a number of incursions into Texas and other places from some of the folks in Mexico.”

MacKinnon isn’t the only person promoting a Civil War do-over.  The League of the South and the New Confederacy are two fringe groups advancing the secession of the Southern states.  The League, which is classified as a racist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (S.P.L.C.) (see a recent article from this blog about its new paramilitary arm), differs slightly from the New Confederacy in which set of states should secede, but their idea is the same: to return to traditional values, including, it is hard not to infer, segregation.  Meanwhile, an organization called Christian Exodus has been trying since the early 2000s to convince enough conservative Christians to move to South Carolina so that it can become an even more conservative-dominated state, reserving the right to secede if necessary to implement God’s law.  A group called Third Palmetto Republic advocates South Carolinian secession for similar reasons, with rhetoric focusing squarely on President Barack Obama.

The League of the South
It is natural to think of the name Reagan when thinking of a revived Southern confederacy.  After the Texan Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson pushed through civil-rights legislation in the 1960s, his Republican successor, Richard Nixon, exploited the anger of traditionally-Democratic white Southern voters with his “Southern strategy,” appealing to “Negrophobe whites,” in his words.  (As Nixon put it at one point, in a conversation about African-Americans captured on tape in 1971 and unsealed by the National Archives in 1999, “I have the greatest affection for them, but I know they’re not going to make it for 500 years.  They aren’t.  You know it, too.  The Mexicans are a different cup of tea.  They have a heritage.  At the present time they steal, they’re dishonest, but they do have some concept of family life.  They don’t live like a bunch of dogs, which the Negroes do live like.”)

Candidate Richard Nixon, pictured here just moments before a vigorous hand-scrubbing
Reagan completed that strategy by almost single-handedly turning the entire South into a Republican-dominated region, sweeping away the century-old phenomenon of the “Dixiecrats.”  When Reagan launched his presidential campaign in 1980, he did so with a speech on “states’ rights” in Philadelphia, Mississippi, an obscure hamlet whose only significance was that it was the site of a grisly Ku Klux Klan triple murder in the Civil Rights era—crimes authorities in Mississippi (as is their “right,” the argument seems to be) refused to investigate until Johnson sent the meddling Feds in.  And in Southern whistlestops (this was long before YouTube began magnifying tiny local micromessaging soundbites to a global audience) Reagan railed against “strapping young bucks” spending food stamps on “T-bone steaks or booze and cigarettes.”  But MacKinnon insists he himself is no racist.

Reagan in Mississippi in 1980.
(I believe that is Lee Atwater, one of the openly-racist
architects of the “Southern strategy,” to his immediate left.)
Nor is the idea of naming a geographical entity after Reagan new.  The monniker has been proposed for the inland Southern California state some Republicans (as discussed in an article in this blog) want to carve out of the heartland near where Reagan’s original conservative base dwelt when he was governor of California—and also for South Dakota, a state which has long been irked by its obscure place in alphabetical order, as well as in the population-density rankings.  (Renaming itself Reagan, though, will not fix that problem as much as another proposal, to become simply Dakota.)

Another possible “State of Reagan,” including, of course, Orange County
But MacKinnon’s proposal would not be a State of Reagan but a Reagan Republic or Reagan Confederacy.  (A loose federal structure is an idea common to all neo-Confederate movements.)  Another possibility, then, would be Reagania, but that would have the disadvantage of having the word gay in it.

Look for MacKinnon’s book soon.  It can be grouped with Chuck Thompson’s left-wing book Better Off without ’Em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession as fringe-of-the-fringe bookends to our divided red-and-blue America.

[For those who are wondering, yes, this blog is tied in with my new book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas just published by Litwin Books under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements and Aspirant Nations, from Abkhazia to Zanzibar.  (That is shorter than the previous working title.)  The book, which contains 46 maps and 554 flags (or, more accurately, 554 flag images), is available for order now on Amazon.  Meanwhile, please “like” the book (even though you haven’t read it yet) on Facebook and see this special announcement for more information on the book.]

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