Neo-Confederate Democrats: Oxymorons?
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Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 11:30:00 PM EST
“Many of you may be thinking that I have lost my mind,” Republican Del. Don Dwyer wrote in a March 2013 email and Facebook post to his GOP colleagues in the Maryland General Assembly. Dwyer's mind-losing idea was to switch parties in order to drag the Democratic Party to the right (indeed, the Neo-Confederate, theocratic right) in the 2014 primaries.

“If the gun community alone follows me in this strategic plan, we will have a devastating effect on the next statewide election,” he surmised. He posted a comment on a Maryland gun owners’ forum, stating, “Friends, I am considering taking ‘Operation DINO’ statewide. DINO stands for Democrat In Name Only.” He then spearheaded a Free State DINOS website, which urges Republicans to reregister as Democrats, and sells mugs and T-shirts of dinosaurs emblazoned with the Maryland flag.

Dwyer is a well-known, and remarkably colorful character in Maryland politics. He is a Tea Partier who once acted out an Annapolis version of the Boston Tea Party -- donning a tricorner hat and Colonial breeches to dump tea into the Annapolis harbor. He was once named Legislator of the Year by the far right Gun Owners of America, headed by Larry Pratt.

But whatever credibility Dwyer may have had, sank along with his 26-foot Baja boat when he was arrested in August 2012 for getting drunk at a bar and then crashing the boat, named “The Legislator,” into another boat. The crash sent seven people to the hospital, including three children, one of whom was a 5-year-old girl with a skull fracture. A witness on the scene reported that “a couple of the kids asked if they were dying.”

What do you do with a drunken legislator?

Democratic House Speaker Michael Busch removed Dwyer from his seat on the chamber’s Judiciary Committee as a consequence of the crash. Dwyer stated that two factors drove him to drink: his separation from his wife, and the fact that he felt betrayed by Republican colleagues who voted in favor of Maryland’s marriage equality bill. Dwyer, who is running for reelection in District 31B, faces seven Republican primary challengers.

Dwyer's conviction for drunken boat driving and an additional conviction for drunk driving on the road notwithstanding, his party-switching idea apparently appealed to his boat crash passenger, Baltimore Police Officer John E. Moran IV. Moran has since become a Democrat in order to run in the Democratic Party primary for the House of Delegates in District 31A. Moran has run unsuccessfully three times as a Republican candidate for Anne Arundel County sheriff, and served on the Republican Central Committee.

Two of Dwyer's former colleagues at the theocratic Institute on the Constitution (IOTC), where Dwyer served as Executive Director in 2005, and as a member of the board of directors from 2001-2004, have apparently adopted Dwyer’s idea of party switching.

Neo-Confederates Switch Flags and Parties

IOTC Founder Michael Peroutka switched from the Constitution Party to run in the GOP primary for Anne Arundel County Council, and for a seat on the Republican Central Committee. This is a particularly remarkable switcheroo, because Peroutka was the 2004 Constitution Party candidate for president of the United States. In 2013, the League of the South, which the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as a Neo-Confederate hate group, named Peroutka to its board of directors.

Meanwhile, IOTC’s lead instructor, Pastor David Whitney, who teaches “the God-given right to secede,” has jumped ship from the Republican Party to run in the Democratic primaries for Anne Arundel County Council and for a seat on the Democratic Central Committee. Pastor Whitney had previously run as a Constitution Party candidate against Speaker Busch in 2006. Whitney serves as chaplain for the League’s Maryland chapter, and he chairs the Maryland delegation to the Southern National Congress, which is planning for the secession of the Southern states. Pastor Whitney makes clear, in a February 2014 sermon and op-ed, that in his view, citizenship in this new nation – including the rights to hold public office, vote, serve on a jury, or serve in the Militia -- should be restricted to Christians of the right sort.

As Frederick Clarkson has written for Political Research Associates, “The League's website currently features photos of billboards in Florida and Georgia simply reading, ‘SECEDE.’ The billboards are part of a new interstate campaign promoting Southern Nationalist secession.”

That idea is not new. In July 2007, Del. Dwyer sat next to Peroutka under the flags of Maryland, Alabama, and the Confederate States of America at an event on Peroutka’s Gladway farm in Mitchellville, MD. The occasion was to honor theocrat Alabama Supreme Court CHief Justice Roy Moore at the installation of a replica of Moore’s 10 Commandments statue. Moore was removed from office in 2003 after he refused a Federal Court order to remove the Ten Commandments monument from the courthouse; he was reelected in 2012, with financial backing from Peroutka. When Peroutka spoke at the 2007 installation of the replica of Moore's Ten Commandments on his farm, he pointed to the Confederate flag and called it, “the American flag.”

Peroutka spoke about his secessionist and theocratic beliefs at the 2012 national convention of the League of the South: “I do agree that when you secede, or however the destruction and the rubble of this regime takes place and how it plays out, you’re going to need to take a Biblical worldview and apply it to civil law and government. That’s what you’re still going to need to do.”

Dwyer, and the IOTC, promoted an event that Moore and Pratt headlined on “practical approaches to restore liberty” at Severn Christian Church, in Severn, Maryland on March 15, 2014.

Neo-Confederates and Nullification

Like his Neo-Confederate brethren, Dwyer advocates the nullification of any laws that do not conform to their “Biblical worldview.” He has introduced nullification bills in Maryland, explaining on February 26, 2014, "Nullification is not an act whereby a state simply refuses to comply with a Federal law it does not like, it is the claim that the law is not a law at all because it is unconstitutional."

This is in keeping with Pastor Whitney’s sermon on May 5, 2013. Whitney preached: “When you talk to people about God’s Law being restored in America, they say, ‘Awww, you’re some ayatollah. Awww, you want a theocracy.’ Well yes, I want obedience to God’s Law because that is where liberty comes from. Liberty comes from God’s Law. Tyranny comes when God’s law is rejected by a society as it has been rejected in our day. Indeed, any law made that contradicts God’s Law, what is it? It’s not law at all. You could call it unlaw or you could call it, as our founders did, pretended law. But it is not law if it violates God’s Law.” Listen to the audio file below:

It is not clear whether Dwyer shares his former IOTC and current party-switching colleagues’ beliefs about nation-switching. However, it seems likely that he is at least of their camp if not entirely in it. First Amendment supporters from Jews on First interviewed Dwyer in July 2007. They asked him how he felt about sitting on-stage under the Confederate flag.

"I don't have a problem with it," Dwyer stated. He described Peroutka as "a staunch supporter of the Southern position on [the Civil] War" who "honorably flies that flag."

As the Neo-Confederates have shown, once you switch allegiance to your flag, it’s a small step to switch your party registration, too.

The author is Treasurer of Friends of Betsy Bury. Bury is a Democrat running against Neo-Confederate theocrat Pastor David Whitney for a seat on the Democratic Central Committee in Maryland’s Anne Arundel County.

Are the potential voters/constituents sufficiently up on these shenanigans, or is it possible that we see yet another one of those "Holy schnikey, they really voted for that guy?" scenarios?

The AFL-CIO recently endorsed a far-right NAR member in California, running as Democrat. As a union retiree, I don't think I need mention that this set my hair on fire. I received no response when I asked about this.

by trog69 on Thu Mar 20, 2014 at 11:34:51 PM EST

I sent a small donation, even though I technically don't have a dog in that hunt. She looks like someone I'd like to see in politics - a real person with a sense of humor. But she's probably up against a network that can raise a lot of money. I hate to see people like her opponent get into power, though we certainly have our share here in Arkansas. It scares the bejesus out of me to think that there might be sufficient support for secession to actually pull it off.

by phatkhat on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 01:39:40 AM EST

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