Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Lesson of Athens, Tennessee

An idea whose time has come cannot be stopped by any army or any government.” -- Ron Paul

On January 28th, the Tennessee Republican Assembly Presidential straw poll was won overwhelmingly by Ron Paul, who garnered 63% of the votes cast. Rick Santorum finished second, with 20% of the vote. Later that day, the Tennessee Republican Assembly leadership announced their endorsement of Rick Santorum for the Republican Presidential nomination. No mention was made that Rick Santorum has no delegates on the Tennessee primary ballot, his ground game an utter failure in the state.

Author's Note: I generally endeavor to use only commonly-recognized mainstream media outlets as news sources in my articles. However, research shows that those sources have been silent concerning the Tennessee Republican Assembly straw poll, their endorsement, and the controversy surrounding it.

The Tennessee Republican Assembly leadership is apparently unfamiliar with their own state history, at least as it pertains to Athens, Tennessee and 1947.

They are not alone, however.

On October 29, 2011, Ron Paul won the National Federation of Republican Assemblies Presidential straw poll, with 82% of the vote. Rick Santorum finished third, with 1%. Later that day, Rick Santorum was endorsed by the National Federation of Republican Assemblies.

On April 26, 2008, the Nevada GOP convention was recessed by party insiders in the face of tremendous support for Ron Paul. Three months later, the party establishment called off its state convention and announced it would instead pick its delegates to the national convention by private conference call. The resulting battle lasted all the way to the Republican National convention, when the Ron Paul supporters finally acquiesed in the interests of party unity.

Numerous additional cases are well-known among the members of the liberty movement, including examples in Colorado and California, as well as this audio recording of the Nueces County, Texas Republican party establishment introducing their own hand-picked slate of delegates contrary to established rules, and over shouts of protest, in the hope of short-circuiting massive Ron Paul support. The establishment prevailed, in the end.

The National Press Cooperates

The national press has not only been relatively silent concerning these cases; they have colluded with the political establishment in marginalizing the Ron Paul candidacy, generally preceeding any mention of his name with "unelectable" when not using even more pejorative terms.

Studies by Pew Research and others have solidly documented the media bias against his campaign. A recent article in the Atlantic Wire documented much of this bias, which his supporters refer to as a blackout. Ilana Mercer covered the bias following Ron Paul's second place finish in the Ames, Iowa straw poll, 152 votes(1%) behind Michele Bachmann, in considerable detail, including this on-air remark by CNN's Drew Griffin; "If you get a sound bite from Palin bring that back to us. You can hold the Ron Paul stuff."

Social commentator and comedian Jon Stewart found the exclusion significant enough to devote a segment of his popular show to the obvious media bias.

So what does all of this have to do with Athens, Tennessee?

The Battle of Athens, Tennessee

In August, 1946, the citizens of Athens and Etowah, Tennessee rebelled against their local government in the face of widespread corruption in the election process. The U.S. Department of Justice had investigated allegations of electoral fraud in 1940, 1942 and 1944, but had taken no action. In the following two years, many veterans of World War II had returned to the county, where they took it upon themselves to field a slate of candidates for office in the primary and ensure a fraud-free election.

On the day of the primary, some ex-GI poll watchers were beaten almost immediately by the 200 extra armed "deputies" brought in by the political machine. After Tom Gillespie, an African-American voter, was beaten and then shot by a sheriff's deputy, crowds gathered.

Some of the GIs raided the National Guard and State Guard armories, then surrounded the jail, where the ballot boxes had been taken by those in power "for safekeeping." A battle ensued, with shots fired and dynamite used to finally convince the establishment contingent inside to flee the county. Although there were several injuries, no one was killed. The ballots were finally counted and the corrupt political machine driven from the county.

The general election, held on November 5, passed without incident. McMinn County residents had restored the rule of law and returned to their formerly peaceful ways.

A more detailed history is available through Wikipedia.

The Bottom Line

George Santayana, philosopher, essayist, poet and novelist, expressed it most succinctly.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

...and that's all I have to say about that.