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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Perry Raises Rebel Banner

I guess extraordinary times lead to extraordinary talk, but Texas Governor Rick Perry seems to have an extraordinarily limited knowledge of American history, looking at some of his remarks this week about states’ rights.
Perry got the most attention for hinting at a revival of Texas secessionist sentiment. Via Steve Benen, we hear him respond to calls of “Secede!” from a “tea party” event yesterday:

“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that.

Now there’s always been a lot of semi-facetious Texas Independence talk in the Lone Star State, so I take this flirtation with secession by Perry with a shaker of salt. But less noticed was his more forthright effort to raise the banner of “states’ rights” in a different statement:

I believe the federal government has become oppressive. It’s become oppressive in its size, its intrusion in the lives of its citizens, and its interference with the affaris of our state.
Texans need to ask themselves a question. Do they side with those in Washington who are pursuing this unprecendented expansion of power, or do they believe in individual rights and responsibilities laid down in our foundational documents.
Where’re you gonna’ stand? With an ever-growing Washington bureaucracy, or are you going to stand with the people of this state who understand the importance of state’s rights.
Texans need to stand up. They need to be heard, because the state of affairs that we find ourselves in cannot continue indefinitely…
…We think it’s time to draw the line in the sand and tell Washington that no longer are we going to accept their oppressive hand in the state of Texas.

It’s been quite some time since it’s been respectable in major-party politics, even in the South, to prattle about “states’ rights.” You can promote “federalism,” yeah, and bash Washington all day long, sure. But issuing the old rebel yell of “states’ rights” is a bit edgy, even for Rick Perry. Looks like W.’s handpicked successor as governor of Texas is determined to nail down that hard-core conservative vote early in his anticipated primary battle next year with Kay Bailey Hutchison.

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