Jerry Pangle, a farmer in Humphreys County, Tenn., is active in the Tennessee Constitution Party. Below are some of his rows of vegetables. (Photos Pat Pangle)
By David Tulis
It’s easy to think that constitutional government doesn’t stand a chance in politics because of elections in which Republican or Democrat always wins.
These parties are a duopoly in which each plays the good guy to the other’s bad. But Chattanoogans and other Americans are finding that one is as bad as the other, and that the goodness they pretend is mere trickery.
We’re not left with that dreaded consequence of voting, that whomever is elected, government always gets in.
We don’t have to remain stuck with the false option on election day of choosing the lesser of two evils.
Artichokes, peas and constitution
Tennesseans have the privilege of being able to support the Tennessee Constitution Party, whose best prospective candidates may be Mike Warner, a constitutionalist former military man in Clarksville who may run for a state office, and Karen Bracken, a fed-up Republican and Common Core critic in Ocoee.
Among those looking to give free market-oriented Republicans a fresh option is Jerry Pangle, who runs a vegetable farm in Humphreys County and with his wife, Pat, shows up at farmer’s markets in middle Tennessee to peddle his fare.
The party he serves is very earthy, as is Mr. Pangle, a former Tea Party activist who says he finally had had enough of the Republican Party’s co-opting of that grass-roots movement.
Republicans, mapless, toothless
Republican party has lost its way and lacks coherence and drive necessary to reverse the national cliff leap, he asserts in a phone interview.
“It refuses to hold to its platform. It is driven by money. And it accepts the absolutely lawlessness of the country and refuses to do something about it,” Mr. Pangle says. Its candidates vote with the Democrats about 60 percent of time.
Had Gov. Haslam been a Constitution Party candidate, would he have acted differently June 26 when the federal high court published its pro-homosexual deconstruction of marriage?
“[Gov. Haslam] and the AG contacted all the clerks and told them to issue the license” under the authority of Obergefell vs. Hodges. “A constitutional governor would have contacted the clerks and would have sent them a letter *** quoting what our constitution says and informing them that they would be in violation of their oaths if they issued a license to a same-sex couple.”
Had Gov. Haslam been a Constitution Party member, his refusal to uphold the law and to impose homosexuality upon marriage in Tennessee would have been “strike one” against him in a rule that says make three abuses against the constitution cause for ouster.
On parceling out blame for the political consequences of Obergefell, Mr. Pangle says, “We start at the top, and blame them all the way down.” No court opinion is “law of the land” because courts don’t write law. Mr. Haslam would have been outed “for not repudiating” this opinion.
But that’s nullification and interposition. GOPers, on hearing those words, Mr. Pangle says, “go weak in their knees, white in their face and ready to collapse.”
Republicans do not believe in constitutional government, but in the national state.
Throwing away vote?
His most commonly heard question: Is a voter wasting his vote to vote for a nonestablishment party? “If you are not voting your principles you are absolutely throwing your vote away. And voting for the least of two evils is still evil. The first thing a person will ask me is, well, if I vote for you guys, all I am going to do is elect a Democrat. I don’t believe there’s so much difference between the two that it would worry you in the first place.”
Voter participation is dropping like a “hot rock” since the 1960s, Mr. Pangle says. People are dropping out of the system, including Christians who believe voting doesn’t matter or who have a theological presupposition of indifference [pietism, premillennial dispensationalism — DJT].
But he urges Christians to take part because evil has rotted out the two-party system and main party politicians are committed to the status quo without being held to account. Nonvoting is rational and principled if there is no alternative to Democrat and Republican. But the Constitution Party overseer says if an alternative exists, we can’t say, “Don’t blame me, I didn’t vote.”
People of principle and Christian conviction are duty bound before God to participate in elections, he says, if an alternative exists.
Honorable sheriffs, states rights
The party favors the 10th amendment claims on rights and authority belonging to the states. Gun laws and crime belong to the states, but since Tennessee gets 40 percent of its budget from Washington, “it is almost impossible to buck them” on constitutional rights, the Constitution Party admits. “If push comes to shove,” Mr. Pangle says, “it’s our money in the first place,” and law enforcement should not be federalized and should remain under local control.
Sheriffs “fail to realize the power they have” to reject federal military and surveillance claims, and “they should defend their county against an invader, lawlessness or a tyrannical government.”
Many Tennessee sheriffs disbelieve in their own authority. Mr. Pangle says his espousing constitutional rights makes sheriffs “look at me like I have six heads.” But sheriffs don’t know the powers they have, and should exercise them in the defense of their counties’ residents.
The party strictly opposes the sort of U.S. military adventurism and intervention that have spawned a global war of terrorism, such as that evidenced by the massacre in Paris on Friday.
The Tennessee party website is https://www.cpotn.com/platfrom-2.html.
— David Tulis hosts a show 9 to 11 a.m. weekdays at AM 1240 Hot News Talk Radio covering local economy and free markets in Chattanooga and beyond.