You do not have to be from the South to know the phrase, “You ain’t just whistling Dixie,” but to understand it one must know that to whistle “Dixie” is to fantasize of something scandalous and perilous. Specifically, it means to joke about secession. The song predates the Civil War, but it has become synonymous with the idea of Southern secession.
This month I started reading “Mississippi’s Defiant Years” by Erle Johnson, former owner and publisher of The Scott County Times. On page 72, Johnson tells of the week of September 23 in 1957, following Eisenhower’s deployment of troops within the state of Arkansas. Johnson writes that he convinced Superintendent L. O. Atkins and Band Director Hal Polk to have the Forest High marching band play “Dixie” instead of the “Star-Spangled Banner” before Friday night’s football game. Ultimately, it rained on Friday night and the band never played. But the news that the school was planning the stunt stirred up press and finger-wagging.
Times have changed, and while the political battles and norms of 1957 have no relation to the present, the country is the most divided that it has been since the Civil War. If the wound from the election has started to heal, the scab is about to get ripped off.
The week of February 8, the Senate plans to begin a post-mortem impeachment trial for Donald Trump. The last time the Senate pushed forward with a kabuki impeachment trial after an official left office was in 1876 with the trial of secretary of war William Belknap during the Grant presidency. The trial failed to gain a guilty vote centrally because Belknap had already resigned. In all other cases of impeachment, before and after Belknap, the Senate trial did not proceed after the official resigned from office. The precedent is 3-1 against proceeding with a Senate trial after an official has left their office (4-0 if you count that Belknap was acquitted).
The intent, as in any third world nation in which a new regime takes over, is to prevent the opposition from running again. That is not my description of it—that is how opinionists at Washington Post, Newsweek and NBC framed the “lock her up” chants in 2016/17. The calls to lock up Hillary Clinton were described across national outlets as “the chant of a banana republic.”
Welcome to the banana republic. I did not vote for Trump (nor Joe Biden), but I do not support this impeachment because it will further divide the country in a serious way that the previous impeachment could not. Trump just received 74 million votes—that is an increase of 12 million votes over his performance in 2016—that is not a decay of support. The country is split down the middle. Biden and Trump each won 25 states.
One does not have to love Trump to question the integrity of our voting system due to the lack of paper ballots. What is wrong with believing in physical, paper ballots and voting in person? What is wrong with using a system that everyone agrees is less vulnerable?
The Democrat case for this impeachment hinges on the precept that it is seditious and encourages insurrection to question the trustworthiness of the election machines or to point out that authority to alter election rules falls purely to state legislatures and cannot be circumvented by other state officials.
This is the great and slippery slope that we have all heard about before—it is the idea of expanding the scope of unprotected speech.
We all know the basic example of speech that is not protected—screaming “fire” in a crowded theater (because of the crowded status of the venue and the expectation of human nature).
They are saying today that you cannot express that you do not trust the electronic voting machines because that is inferring the necessity of a revolution.
By extension, Democrats and a small faction of RINOs want to wield this new thoughtcrime argument against at least 7 Senators and 147 members of the House. If Trump can be found guilty of sedition and insurrection for questioning the technopoly over our voting infrastructure or for pointing out the rules in the Constitution, then they will have established the precedence that any member of Congress who argued in favor of investigating the election on January 6 and any member of the House who voted against certification should be expelled from office and barred from running again.
If you expel 154 members of Congress, you ain’t just whistling Dixie. This idea of removing newly elected members of Congress en-masse is beyond reckless and inflammatory—it is the disenfranchisement of millions of voters.