It didn’t get a lot of play in the media, but according to a sizable number of Texas ultra-conservatives, the Lone Star state will soon be invaded and taken over by our very own US military. This is all part of a stealth plot that carries the name “Operation Jade Helm 15 (JH)” In fact, what is involved here is a military exercise that will take place in remote areas of several southwestern states. It was announced publicly, townhall meetings were held to inform local citizens, and permission to make partial use pf private lands was secured, a priori, from the owners. In other words, the Pentagon took every reasonable, practical step to assuage the fears of those folks who might harbor dark suspicions about what JH might actually involve.
Sadly, all those efforts did no good. The Internet and and right-wing blogosphere were lit up by the rantings and conspiracies of individuals who can legitimately be described as “paranoid paranormals”. In their minds, Texas was “ground zero” and would be the target of martial law, the infringement of Constitutional rights, and the seizure of private property, especially G-U-N-S!!!!
Now, on first blush, this could easily be passed off as typical Texas buffoonery and laughable on its face. Unfortunately, there are some serious “sides” to this story that ought not to be dismissed because of what they bespeak about our present political culture and its future.
On the one hand, you have elected officials like Texas Governor Greg Abbott and US Representative Louie Gohmert who have actively given countenance to the baseless fears of their constituents. Abbott has ordered the state’s National Guard to “monitor” the military’s JH activities least they violate anyone’s rights, and Gohmert wants JH called off altogether. In other words, feed the paranoia rather than give people assurance that there is nothing in this military operation to fear. This failure to lead from a position of sanity is a neon indicator of just how low some politicians will sink in their willingness to pander to the worst elements in some of their supporters. And, it is those same supporters who are now in control of the local Republican political apparatus; i.e. they push candidates who share their dysfunction, eliminate in primaries, anyone who doesn’t, and then end up sending to Congress, representatives committed to voting in accordance with their mental illness.
On the national level, you have Republican presidential candidates like senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) who have adopted the same pandering rhetoric. These are two individuals who have anointed themselves as capable of leading an entire nation, yet act beholden to just a small fraction of voters among us. Make no mistake; if elected, they would govern accordingly.
In the last analysis, that is what is so troubling about this flap over JH, and why it has its serious facets: It tells us who is in control of the Republican Party and who its most committed supporters try will send to Congress; i.e. representatives who hate the federal government, have a pathological distrust of it, and would prefer to obstruct rather than govern.
It does not bode well for either the present or the future!!!