Friday, November 25, 2016

The Rise of Dominionism

     Going to make America great again? Then, tell me, what is our metric of greatness? What is the gold backing America’s currency of greatness? 

Greatest people in the world? Forgive me, home team, but not really. Not according to my own experience traveling in the world. Everywhere you go, there’s everything from A to Z. Anyway, it’s silly to generalize people beyond those basic functions we all share. And, after all, the U.S. is comprised of people from everywhere in the world.  

Is it because we field the most powerful military in the world? Nah. That’s iron. Not the gold of greatness.

Is it our form of Democracy? No. I don’t think so. Our Democracy is not yet fully matured to gold. According to George Washington’s diary, the volunteers who showed up to fight at Lexington were “roughly one third native Indians, one third black negroes, & one third tavern rabble.” A fact that makes history revisionists uncomfortable. Yet the founders, unable to entirely surmount the prejudice and custom of their time, saw fit to allow only white landowners to vote in elections – all others have had to fight for that right, and against considerable opposition. And the contemporary reality is: your vote doesn’t really count, as there is the possibility that, due to glitches, it may not be counted at all, or simply overrode by the slave-state Electoral College, as we have recently experienced.

As a native son and man of the country, I’ve come to see the real gold backing America’s currency of greatness as that which was here even before America was conceived. The home land. It is the base source of all of our wealth. Our true gold is the land and water and the resources therein, which all Americans hold in common.

The natives of this continent knew that.

Confronted with an abundance of resources they’d never known in Europe, the colonial Puritans of New England conceived a distinctly American concept of commonwealth in the form of Town Commons, which were once vast acreages surrounding New England townships, upon which travelers and non-landowners were allowed to hunt, fish, camp, cut firewood and graze their animals. This concept evolved to become one of the base principles of the American Way. Our resources do not belong solely to the aristocracy or the king. We hold in common ownership the government and all of its entities, the infrastructure, the public schools, the national parks, national forests, navigable waterways up to the high water mark, and all public lands. These things are our e pluribus unum home. The real and tactile gold backing our abstract notions of greatness. Lose these things and we lose hope of living in a fertile and balanced civilization. We will become a degraded nation of poor people with no future.

There are quite a few who disagree with what I just wrote. A growing and recently emboldened alt-right group, the Dominionists, would vehemently disagree. Dominionists are white nationalists who hold that the original, pre-amended Constitution was dictated to the Founders straight from God, as sacred as The Bible. They hold that America is the chosen Dominion of God, meant only for His chosen people. They believe commonwealth or public trust lands are a communist concept, not fitting with their notion that God has made all lands within our borders available for purchase – and to be able to purchase these lands and waterways, and use them as they see fit without interference, is their birthright. They believe climate change and toxic chemical pollution are hoaxes. This is the Clive Bundy crowd. The more radical among them support America adopting Old Testament law (see: Leviticus). Though ubiquitous throughout the country, there are quite a few of these people living in the inland Northwest. I have one neighbor, moved up recently from South Carolina – built a barbed wire enclosed compound decorated with a Confederate flag and an eight by four bullet-proof steel sign admonishing: READ THE BIBLE!!, painted his pickup cammo, dresses entirely in cammo, he is angry and obviously at war – and argues straight-faced that stoning is actually a sound Conservative punishment, as it would save tax money not having to keep offenders in jail. A novel solution, I say. Ironic that these same folks backed Oklahoma legislation making it illegal to institute Sharia law, which is much closer to their own ideal than they know.             

Sound like crazy conspiracy theory? It does. Yet be aware, along with fringe, alt-right Dominionists, there are powerful men working full-time at taking public lands away, selling the idea that commonwealth property is a “communist” concept, and these resources better privatized, sold to pay off the national debt, and put into the hands of extractive “job creators”. Selling off our public lands has long been on the Republican agenda, particularly in some western states, most notably Utah, where Dominionists first attempted to wrest federal lands in the 1970’s and ‘80’s in what became known as the Sagebrush Rebellion, and then again in 2010, enacting legislation attempting to condemn public lands within the state, then again in 2012, enacting the Transfer of Public Land Act, again attempting to assume the power to “condemn” public lands within the state of Utah.  

As a result of the recent elections the rural base Dominionists have become emboldened and vocal. The wealthy party leadership, who have the most to gain, are moving to take advantage. This from Rance Priebus’s official Republican platform, calling for: “universal legislation providing a timely and orderly mechanism to convey certain federally controlled public land to the states.” They know the base dislikes the “guvmint”, so when you say “federally controlled” it sounds oppressively marshal, which serves to incite folks like my neighbor. Of course most of us know these lands belong to the people, the federal government only serving as the administrative arm of the people, if I’m remembering 5th grade Civics lessons correctly. But the platform’s wording is a way to manipulate the subtleties of language to skew the truth, make folks angry and get them to vote against their own interests. To be fair, there are a lot of reasonable hunting and fishing Republicans who don’t agree with this privatizing policy, and I hope these will take the time to make their view known to public and party leadership.    

The Dominionists hatch a two-step plan. They know they can’t accomplish it outright, so they call for ceding federal lands to the states, which they know can’t afford to administer them. Once under state control these lands may be discretely sold off cheap to the extractive “job creators” to be fracked, subdivided into gated McRanchos, or perhaps exclusive pay-to-play hunting and fishing resorts.

Where do we draw the line?  Well, where have we arrived?

Check out Facebook where photo-shopped pictures of Michelle Obama with male genitals are currently trending, meant to be proof that the president and his wife are actually both men (of course no explanation for their two children). It is while we are divided and diverted in this stinky miasma of ignorance, hate and obfuscation that our lands will be taken from us, and possibly more than that. And that’s where we’ve arrived.

Where we've arrived, avowed Dominionists, Sarah Palin and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, have both been under consideration for the Secretary of the Interior position. Some are relieved to hear the president-elect has now settled on Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Montana), who is considered slightly less radical than Palin and Rodgers, yet still very cozy with extractive interests looking for easy access to public lands.        

Time to inform ourselves and get busy.  Freedom has never been free. The price may be dear. Though some would have us believe it is, a mind-spinning number of cheap goods stacked on store shelves is not freedom. And all the material goods and all the jobs in the world will not help us once we render the health of our land, water and resources untenable. We will have no home. Agree with them or not, the Sioux, who are men, have drawn a line, and won. Let them stand as an example. If we allow our public lands to be sold away we will lose the open sky classroom of self-reliance, independence and freedom that has fostered the best traits of our national character. That gone, the next stop is nihilism and then entropy.

Make America great again.                   

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