Drugstore cowboys have made “Don’t Mess with Texas” the state’s unofficial motto, but Texas appears to be pretty messed up without any outside help. Case in point, the Armed Forces of the United States plans to hold elaborate war games codenamed Jade Helm 15 in an environment that resembles a place we might end up fighting. They do this all the time. It’s called training.
Not surprisingly, the area chosen is seven, sandy, sparsely populated states in the Southwest that can act as stand-ins for you-know-where. A map of the war games designates several regions as hostile territory – including Utah and Texas. This is the sort of macho, gung-ho, red-white-and-blue activity that once would have brought tears to the eyes and a lump to the throat of Texans. No more.
The games and the map came to the attention of professional lunatic Alex Jones and it was off to the races. He’s a far-right talk show host based in Austin who’s said to have more unhinged listeners that either Limbaugh or Glenn Beck. In the past Jones has argued that the Bush administration was behind 9/11, that the Oklahoma City bombing was also the work of the federal government, and that the moon landings were faked by the government. Do we see a theme here, an idee fixe?
That’s right, the federal government is the source of all evil. He’s on the same page as the ayatollahs. Washington is the Great Satan and Obama is its Lucifer-in-Chief. Thus, these war games are not an innocent training exercise but a dark plot. The cover story will be that Jade Helm is tasked with rounding up ISIS terror cells in Texas and across the border in Mexico, which is the sort of thing that ought to appeal to paranoids.
But in fact, according to Jones, the SEALs, Green Berets, and 82nd Airborne will use this cover story to disarm civilians. When they resist, as good Texans surely ought, they will be put on special trains equipped with shackles (eyewitnesses claim to have seen these Nazi-style cattle cars), and relocated to political prisoner camps located in abandoned Walmart stores. Details enrich one’s fantasy life.
Obviously Obama is behind this conspiracy to disarm Texas. Chuck Norris has joined Jones in warning Texans to beware. An unsuspecting military briefer was practically lynched by a mob of pitchfork patriots when he showed up for a public meeting to explain the exercise to locals, unaware that talk radio had poured nonsense into the ears of gullible fools.
In a normal place and time, the story would end there. The sane majority would have a hearty laugh at the gullibility of rubes and a mental health intervention for Jones might be suggested. Chastened rubes would slink home. The Military would carry on. End of story. But not in Texas.
None other than Greg Abbott Esq., the Governor of Texas, took the fantasy seriously and alerted the Texas National Guard, which he has tasked with keeping a watchful eye on the U.S. Military to prevent them from shipping all Texas gun owners to concentration camps. This is the same Greg Abbott who, as Texas Attorney General, said his job consisted of going to work, suing Barack Obama and going home. So, when it reached him, a conspiracy theory implicating the black, socialist, Kenyan president fell on fertile ground.
Clearly the paranoia purveyors of right-wing talk radio and TV thrive by demonizing government. And parts of the South and West imagine the solution is to secede from the Union, though in their mind I suppose the goal is sawing off the socialist states of America on the two coasts to return the Union to a state of mythical purity it has lost. It’s a poisonous mindset that can give aid and comfort to our actual enemies by creating a house divided and by paralyzing needed government action. At the least, it throws sand in the gears of progress.
What is to be done? Perhaps the only hope is to reverse the Big Sort. This is the trend for Blue states to get bluer and Red redder as birds of a feather have increasingly tended to flock together. Thus, sane people in Red states have relocated to Blue allowing the conspiracy belt to stew in ever angrier juices. Since that seems to lead inexorably to perpetual hostility, a kind of second Civil War by other means, or Balkanization, it appears to be a self-defeating strategy for the nation at large.
One solution is simply to wait for the fans of regress to expire, since they tend to be geriatric. The average age of Limbaugh listeners is 66 and for Fox News it’s 68. But that’s a rather long term solution. Medicare from the hated Feds could keep them alive and frothing for decades. The path of patriotism seems obvious. Blue Staters must emigrate en masse to Red states and tip the electoral balance back to sanity.
In 2014, Republican governors won in Idaho by a scant 20,000 votes, in Kansas by 30K, in Wyoming by 50K, in New Mexico by 70K, Arkansas 100K, Oklahoma 120K, Arizona 150K, South Carolina 170K, Georgia 200K, and Alabama 300K. So the shift of slightly over 700,000 votes would have tipped the balance in 10 states. In a country of 320 million, how hard would it be to relocate so small a fraction of the population? Retirees already move south, but they tend to fall in the Alex Jones demographic. Perhaps black retirees would like to reverse the Great Migration for the fun of sticking a vote in the eye of the right, except for the fact that gerrymandering and voter suppression tactics are stacked against them.
Liberal denizens of Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Portlandia and the home of Starbucks and Microsoft could do something more useful than creating Twitter, Windows 8, $6 lattes and Seth Rogen movies by moving their operations to Blue states. Aside from the political benefits, they would escape the coming quake and ongoing drought, so the move could be seen as both a safety precaution and as environmentally friendly.
Texas, the epicenter of the craziness, would remain a problem. Gov. Abbott beat Democrat Wendy Davis by almost a million votes, as much as the 10 other states combined. Perhaps the solution is to simply allow Texas to be gradually reabsorbed into Mexico. That would be a cruel thing to do – to Mexico — but to make a more perfect union, a few huevos must be broken. More executive orders by Obama could accelerate the process of hispanisizing Texas.
I hasten to add that I am joking about launching any such conspiracy to change the Reds to Blue. I’m messing with Texas, but it is my hope that the idea may catch on in the blogosphere where people believe pigs can fly. With any luck the idea will come to the attention of Abbott and Norris and Jones, and send them into another comical spasm of fear and loathing.