Monday, February 25, 2013
How does the South reclaim its Legacy?
Part 3 of 4
By Mark Vogl
The Politics of Governance
Where the South and its guardians have been completely inept is creating a “living” agenda to take to the government to implement. The Southern movement has been passive – lying on the porch like a lazy hound dog, barking only after some coyote has snatched Brer Rabbit. There has been absolutely no initiative, or offensive campaign to re-assert the Southern Legacy in terms of local, state and federal policy.
Were you to attend a Veterans’ organization (VFW, Legion, Vietnam Vets, Amvets, etc.) state or national convention you would find that a great deal of time is spent on creating a legislative agenda for the organization. Tens, if not more than one hundred, resolutions will be addressed at the various veterans conventions concerning everything from defense and foreign policy issues, to veterans programs, budgeting, pay and benefits, etc. Like heritage organizations, the veterans are prohibited from any activity that aids in the actual election of favored candidates. However, the V.F.W., American Legion, Amvets, Vietnam Veterans, etc. work hard to influence government policy no matter who is in office!
And this is where the South has been dismally inept and the heritage organizations derelict in their duty.
A real reason for the failure of creating a Southern agenda is apathy. Yes apathy. Most Americans pay very little attention to the work of governing the nation, or expend little of their own resources and time to participate in the practice. This apathy is as prevalent in the Southern movement as it is anywhere else in society.
Part of this is caused by the Southern tradition of wanting to ignore government as much as possible. There is a Libertarian strain in “Southernness,” one that abhors government. In Texas it is almost sacred. Government is like the small pox, you don’t want it. I completely understand this feeling.
But the real danger in this kind of thinking is that yankees, and other sorts will take advantage of the vacuum created by Southern absence to take everything government can give them (which means Southern monies collected in taxes). Then the yankees will cry about what they did not get. Their agenda is endless. The have an appetite that cannot be quenched, as is evidenced by a 16 trillion dollar debt.
Southern heritage organizations have failed completely in this duty. There is no legislative agenda, no legislative directors at the federal and state levels. There are no liaison officers from camps and chapters to local government, and state and federal officials. (Something all veterans’ organizations do.)
While the Southern agenda need not be overly expensive, it does need to have funding requests connected to it to make it real. Money is value and in politics it is one of the currencies of deals and power.
For the South, its conservative ideology, and promotion of the South dollars could be connected to:
a. Confederate cemeteries (like the ones in Richmond) that should have decent headstones promised by the Veterans Administration but never coming.
b. Funding for Confederate and Southern museums, festivals, cultural events which promote not only the old South, but the present one. These funds should be unhindered by Yankee interference, or political correctness in telling the Southern story.
c. Block grants to states to provide domestic services currently administered at the federal level, but which should be conducted at the state level. These grants should be reduced through time, allowing the states to fund them completely. (State sovereignty)
d. Closure of the Department of Education at the federal level, and ending all subsidies for public education by the federal government. (Possibly the greatest threat to individual freedom and the concept of the Republic is the U.S. Department of Education)
e. Funding for Confederate, Pro South historical interpretations at federal and or state parks dedicated to the War for Southern independence. Possibly even the creation of an Office of Southern Heritage within the Department of Parks, reserving the right to fill these job positions by the states represented in the Confederate Congress.
f. Seeing inclusion of the Southern point of view in the historical interpretation of the ante bellum years, secession and the invasion by the Union.
Some in the Southern movement would point to lawsuits as their favored method of interacting with government. I submit that this form of interaction is:
a. Ineffective and costly, syphoning off resources from other more worthwhile publicity, recruiting, marketing and educational activities.
b. Severely restricts the chance to engage the membership.
c. Removes an opportunity for recruiting
d. Plays the game most likely to end up in the status quo’s favor, in part because a small elite leadership decides what deals to cut, and what actions to prevent within its own organization to forward the cause. (Repeated failure demonstrates either a conspiracy within the leadership, or just as bad exceptionally poor judgment.)
Further, to meet the Charge, organizations should establish committees to analyze the Confederate Constitution to extract specific proposals (like those listed below) for implementation within the present United States government, possibly through amendment. Among these could be:
a. Prohibition of commercial and bank bailouts as stated in the C.S. Constitution.
b. Restricting legislation to one, and only one subject.
c. Providing the President with a Line Item Veto.
d. Requiring a two thirds vote of each house to raise spending levels above that of the President’s proposed budget
The point of this portion of the paper is to illustrate that there are means to participate in the political arena. In Virginia and Georgia groups calling themselves Flaggers are investing time in public protest on behalf of the South. Their devotion, self-commitment, tireless work are to be commended and supported. But left to only this tactic I am afraid progress will be very slow, if at all.
In politics, as in war, there are arsenals of weapons with different purposes and uses, all to be used together to attain the objective. Public protest, rallies are one form, or one weapon in the arsenal. But, like infantry, if unsupported by artillery, air cover, naval bombardment, tanks, helicopters, missiles, etc., the infantry can easily be contained and defeated by a force with just one more asset, one more weapon not committed to the infantry.
A campaign to reclaim the Southern Legacy must include all aspects of political operations; fund raising, marketing, polling, media messaging, rallies, communications, base building, etc.
It would be easiest to commence this activity within existing heritage organizations. They have the chain of command, the membership, the structure. But alas, that fifth column has already infested and paralyzed these organizations.
So if there is to be a revival of the South, it seems that there must be a new organization created with one purpose; to affect a Southern agenda. Now the Southern National Congress (S.N.C.) has claimed this ground. The Congress is only a few years old.
Their efforts to date are a promotion of peculiar non-starter causes that have no real basis in the South, or today’s Southerners. They make no effort to represent the South, to determine what the people of the South actually think, but instead remain isolated as a small group with nothing else to do. In existence for a few years, I have yet to hear of public forums, nor have I seen any effort to solicit the real thoughts of the majority of the people of the greater South. No political party has started. Worse, they deal in unreality instead of the political reality of today.
Politics is not some unstructured, anything goes type of activity. There are specific ways to participate in the activity and affect the outcomes. You may not like it, you may even dislike it, but if you want the South to reclaim its Legacy you have to accept the tools you have and use them. The South is being whipped every day because it refuses to play in the game of politics.
For the South to live, to revive, a realistic assessment of today’s people and views is essential. Certainly there are Southerners who revere the originally South, but they appear to be few. Even native born, generations here Southerners do not know the true history and political values of the South.
There is a lot of room for work here.
1 One that is broad, created annually by a wide, active southern movement. It should not be an agenda peculiar to one organization or group. Instead it should reflect a broad consensus of the people of the South. However, the starting point should be the Confederate Constitution and other documents, traditions, etc. that have both historical foundation and contemporary popular support within the Southland as demonstrated by current polling, state legislative action, etc.. To claim that something is “southern” must rely on present day evidence, not a hope of a small group.
2 It should be noted that one National Commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Rick Griffin, did establish a political action committee, and attempted to ignite within the S.C.V. a sense of citizenship. However, there was no depth of commitment behind what Commander Griffin attempted to do.