By Rod Miller, columnist
Nothing surprises me any more in politics. The recent revelation by the New York Times that the ultra-right wing of the Republican Party sent political spies to infiltrate their opponents in both parties wasn’t a surprise. Just a disappointment.
There’s nothing new about political skullduggery, but this is an entirely different animal we’re seeing here. This isn’t Dick Tuck or Donald Segretti doing a little political rat-f******. This isn’t trying to screw with one election, or one candidate.
This is something else. Something much more sinister. This is a frontal attack on an entire system of civic life, and this happened in Wyoming.
It appears that the spies involved were set upon their mission by a network of hard right wing GOP activists that includes Erik Prince (of Blackwater fame), Susan Gore (of camping fame), and a shady British spy among others.
Both Prince and Gore have residences in Wyoming, and broad contacts with the national GOP power structure, so maybe they thought that the Cowboy State would be a good laboratory to field-test their ideas. They hired the British spook to train a couple of young, right-wing recruits, then they turned Boris and Natasha loose on Wyoming citizens who didn’t share their worldview
Their mission was to bore into opposition groups to get the names of opponents, and to get intelligence on the groups and individuals that could be used against them. Let me repeat that: they were gathering names.
Much like Mao Tse Tung did during China’s Cultural Revolution when Mao had spies in every little village to report on their fellow citizens, and to enforce party discipline. Just like Ho Chi Minh did by infiltrating NLF and Viet Cong spies and enforcers into every hamlet in South Vietnam.
Like Reinhard Heydrick’s Gestapo, blending into the German population to watch, listen and bust heads. It is not hyperbole to draw comparisons to these despots.
This attack was not upon political opponents, really. It was an attack upon a political system that guarantees opposition. It was an attack on the rights of every U.S. citizen that wants to think for themselves and act for themselves.
My disappointment is this: it’s sad to see any major political party in the U.S. begin to act totalitarian, regardless of the motivation. That means that they have lost confidence in democracy as practiced in our country, and in pluralistic government.
A party that behaves as the GOP just did, isn’t going after their political opponents, they’re going after us as a society. They’re not out to undermine opposing candidates, they are out to destroy freedom of thought and expression.
The tactic employed is meant to sow discord among us as citizens, to pit neighbor against neighbor, to impart their own mistrust of democracy to us. No matter what party you belong to, this is an attack on you.
Here’s where we justify the confidence placed in us by those who passed down our republic and the system that keeps it alive. Here’s where we, as individual citizens, resolve within ourselves to oppose any party or person tho threatens our political freedom.
Here’s where we (and in deference to my editor, I won’t use the phrase that I want to) tell idiots like Erik Prince, Susan Gore and anyone like them, to go to hell.