the_beheld_definition word fineTennessee House Democratic Caucus chairman Mike Turner says I’m an extremist.


Because I think that state legislatures should stand up and interpose when the federal government acts outside of its constitutionally delegated powers. You see, with  several nullification bills under consideration in the Tennessee legislature, Turner has his very mainstream tightie-whitey underwear all tied up in a knot.

“I hope that cooler heads on their side will prevail,” Turner told the Knoxville News Sentinel. “But they need to show some courage to put these extremists in line. … There are extremists in both political parties. A lot of their extremists got elected to the Legislature. Our extremists didn’t get elected to the Legislature.”

OK, I get it.

Politicians like Turner use terms such as “extremist” to marginalize opposition. If he can make people think those of us who favor state nullification fall into the “nut-job” or “crackpot” category, then he doesn’t have to deal with the merits of our arguments.

But I wonder; does Turner consider all state actions that defy federal authority “extremist,” or just the ones he disagrees with? Does he consider the nauseated cancer patient who goes to the medical marijuana dispensary in California an extremist? Or the people running the dispensary? Or just the lawmakers who legalized marijuana for medical use in the Golden State.

Would Turner have slapped on the extremist label and tried to marginalize northern abolitionists who defied the draconian fugitive slave acts, refusing to send black people back south on the word of some white dude without any due process? Or would he have stood with the feds, cheerleading their efforts to ship black people into perpetual servitude?

While we’re on the subject, I wonder if he considers Thomas Jefferson an extremist. After all, Jefferson said that nullification was the “rightful remedy” when the federal government exercises undelegated powers.

This leads us to an important question: how does Turner define an “extremist?” In order to call something extreme, you must have something to compare it to – something you consider normal. I lived in St. Petersburg, Florida for many years. Weathermen down there consider a January morning in the 20s extreme. But a mercury reading in the 20s up in Maine on that same day would fall into the normal category. In and of themselves, temps in the 20s don’t count as extreme. Those temperature readings only fall into the realm of extreme when compared to a particular standard.

The definition of extreme depends on the definition of normal.

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Perhaps Turner is right. Perhaps we nullifiers ARE extreme when compared with today’s “normal.”  But is that necessarily a bad thing?

Let’s look at what the political mainstream – those normal, non-extreme people – have given us.

They’ve run up some $16 trillion in debt. They’ve launched us into multiple undeclared wars. They claim the power to indefinitely detain us without due process. They claim the power to force every American into a one-size-fits-all health care system whether they want to or not. They spy on us without warrants. They dictate how much water we can have in our toilet, what kind of light bulbs we can screw into our fixtures and what kind of plant we can grow in our own back yards. They raid Amish farms for the heinous crime of selling raw milk. They deny sick people certain medicines. They stick their hands down our pants at the airport. They spend billions of dollars on stimulus programs that only stimulate the politically connected. And they claim the authority to draw up kill lists and obliterate us with drone strikes.

That’s what we call normal in the United States today.

I’ll take extremist, thank you very much.

Mike Maharrey

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