When Texas Governor Rick Perry suggested that Texas could secede back in April 2009, he was roundly mocked. But it turns out he was something of a trendsetter on the right. Today's Washington Post reports that Virginia Republicans, flush with their victory over Democrats in Richmond, are intent on introducing a number of bills to go to war against the federal government.
And a number of other Republicans in other states are intent on emulating them by returning to the antebellum credo of states' rights. Now that the first African-American president is in office, the South is once more in revolt -- against what it considers to be a fresh dictatorship in Washington.
According to the Post, one bill lawmakers are considering would state that the federal government cannot regulate as interstate commerce any and all goods created in Virginia. Another would declare it illegal to require individuals to buy health insurance. Gun control is also in their gun sights. Virginia Republicans are even planning to establish a new government agency to counteract federal measures -- curtailing big government by expanding it, in other words.
The significance of these moves is that they demonstrate the extent to which tea party thinking has seeped into the GOP. The newly elected Governor of Virginia, Robert F. McDonnell, a former protege of the television evangelist Pat Robertson, pretended to moderate his views during the election campaign. Now he is supporting the efforts of lawmakers to attack Washington.
Whether moving to the right will revive the fortunes of the GOP is another matter. It could be that independent swing voters are themselves revolted by the emergence of the radical right. But as the Democrats prepare for 2010, it may well become the most ferociously fought midterm election they have ever encountered.