There have always been multiple strains of anti-government paranoia in the US, which tend to wax and wane depending upon the policies and reputations of the particular presidential administration in office. Depending upon the ideology of the anti-government group and the ideology of the presidential administration, some of these groups are more likely to be ignored, and others more likely to be prosecuted, at any particular time.
US FBI is turning its brightest spotlights away from run of the mill violent gangs and organised crime, onto a movement known as the "Sovereign Citizens" movement. The "sovereign citizen" is more of a loosely knit network composing a wide range of ideologies, personalities, and outlooks. They read a range of books which converge around the idea that their own government is out to get them. In other words, they are paranoid. So how will such a group -- the vast majority of whom are generally non-violent loners -- respond when the US federal government neglects career criminals in order to go after the separatist loners, specifically.
How do paranoid people typically react when they are made the targets of criminal investigations, night-time no-knock raids, and are otherwise framed as public enemies number 1? One might remember the 1990s, and the ill-conceived and deadly government raids on places known as "Ruby Ridge" or "Waco." Something tells me that the people in charge of US federal law enforcement at this time, learned nothing from the bloody disasters that took place 20 years ago in "flyover country USA."
The FBI did not choose to focus on the "sovereign citizens" by happenstance. Although most of the "sovereigns" would like nothing more than to be left alone by what they see as an over-intrusive government, as with any large movement a few of the sovereigns are violent criminals, by nature. Ideological activist lobbies such as the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), have long focused upon what they see as right-wing separatists.
Under Obama, the SPLC is enjoying significantly greater influence within the US federal government. News coverage of the sovereignty movement has picked up lately, perhaps signaling a pre-election intensification of federal government focus on this particular anti-government group -- just one group out of a wide range of anti-government groups representing ideologies from the left, the center, the right, and any number of other philosophies and religions.
The sovereignty movement makes a fine target for Obama's FBI, since such a movement would have no friends among Obama's political supporters and financers. It also makes a fine target for the news media, since it is unlikely that most mainstream journalists, editors, or producers are acquainted with or sympathetic with any sovereign citizens. Even Wikipedia is unable to provide more than a superficial, insubstantial article dealing with the sovereignty movement, but opts instead for a boiler-plate, officially approved 1st grade level primer exposing "all those bad people." There are no links to any spokespersons of the movement itself. There are no objective estimates of the actual size or influence of the movement. It is the type of Wikipedia article that shames the brand for its lack of encyclopedic nature.
So if even Wikipedia has lost its objectivity over the "sovereign citizens," and the US FBI is being led around by the short hairs in the grip of the highly ideological SPLC, what can we expect between now and the US presidential election in November?
Well, anything that distracts attention away from the dismal and worsening economic condition of tens of millions of formerly middle-class Americans, can be seen as a good thing by the Obama administration. "Law enforcement as circus entertainment" is a grand political tradition of diverting distraction dating back centuries at least. Mr. Obama's situation as he approaches his most difficult political contest, suggests that he will not be reluctant to pull the trigger on a large scale clamp-down on the sovereign citizens -- as a form of political theatre and political distraction.
And what effect would such a clamp-down have on the wide ideological array of anti-government paranoids? It would have a mixed effect. But political strategists supporting the US President cannot help but hope that something will dramatic -- but not too dramatic -- will happen. Something that can be spun in the media to the president's benefit. Something closer to Ruby Ridge than to Waco, with no mothers shot dead while holding their infant in their arms, this time.
Perhaps I should put it bluntly: The ignoramuses in Washington think that they can provoke a limited violent response from an already well-demonised, putatively right wing "extremist" group. They believe that they can contain the popular blowback to manageable levels, while discrediting their political opposition in the general election by linking them to the extremists. But are they reading the public mood correctly?
It is more than possible that the Obama organisation could successfully win the next election, by enlisting federal law enforcement in a scheme geared to induce an explosive reaction from the violent fringe of a paranoid fringe group. Congratulations, Obama people! You have won another election. Now, what do you do to contain the growing damage from the methods you used to win?
President Obama's war against the US energy sector and the US private sector in general, has not been exactly subtle. Mr. Obama's antagonism to many of the US Constitutional protections against government power granted to citizens, is not a well kept secret. These "anti-constitutional" and "anti private sector" tendencies of the current US president are well known to large numbers of North Americans. Those who approve of such tendencies are more likely to support Obama in November. Most of those who disapprove will go no further than to vote against the president.
Of course, if the president's organisation manages to inflate the paranoia of all pro-constitutional Americans -- and not just those few fringists who go so far as to declare themselves "sovereign" -- they will have a somewhat different situation on their hands leading into the lame duck 4 year final term.
No one doubts that Mr. Obama will continue to run up $trillion deficits as long as he is president, thus making the economic future of the country ever more unstable. No one doubts that Obama will keep trying to contain US energy production if he can, thus continuing to cripple US commerce and industry. And those are just the president's better qualities.
When the president decides to get serious about "setting things right," when he feels he has nothing left to lose and everything to gain by going after his lifelong enemies and demons, that is when the paranoids will truly come out to howl at the moon. And when that happens, you might want to take cover.
Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they're not out to get you.
Cross-posted to Al Fin blog