Wild Ideas from The Last Frontier

by | Oct 8, 2008

I’m glad we had the opportunity to visit Alaska in August of 2007. Having been there, I feel better equipped to understand some of the thinking emanating from “The Last Frontier” that now shapes our news cycle.

Salon founder David Talbot, concerned with the right wing attacks on Obama that question his love for country, writes:

The Republican ticket is working hard this week to make Barack Obama’s tenuous connection to graying, ’60s revolutionary Bill Ayers a major campaign issue. But the Palins’ connection to anti-American extremism is much more central to their political biographies.

It’s a revealing article and I enjoyed reading it, but I have some issues with it. For one, I’m not ready to say the Alaska Independence Party–which Todd Palin once belonged to, and Sarah Palin recently gave a shout out to–is an “anti-American extremist” organization.

image courtesy of Kayak Juneau

The fact that AKIP sent a Governor to Juneau in 1990 is one argument against this derisive labeling. Unless, of course, a majority of Alaskans are anti-American extremists.

Honestly, I know little about this political party or the people who support it. From what I can see in their platform, it’s essentially libertarian, with some “extreme” views on property rights thrown in. The point is I don’t need to agree with AKIP’s platform to agree that third party politics is of value to the citizens of this nation. Also, the idea of Alaska as a separate nation is not hard to conceive. It’s hard in that Imperial America would never let those natural resources go without a fight. But if you skip over that part, and see it from an Alaskan’s perspective, it makes some sense.

I’d actually take it much further and suggest that America could be divided into a group of nation states defined by its natural bioregions. If states’ rights hadn’t been so severely trampled by Reagan and company, this might not be as necessary as it is today. But they were trampled, and the homogeneous federalism that we endure today is no answer for a nation with many distinct cultures tied to place. For sure, all Americans have things in common, but not like they do with the people who share a climate, a dialect, water and food sources. I’m sure many in Alaska wonder what elected officials and bureaucrats in Washington, DC know about their lives. I wonder this all the time, but I don’t consider my views to be anti-American.

We need wild ideas and extreme points of view to help us stretch. It’s the way to a better future. America is often touted as “the cradle of democracy,” by political figures of all stripes. Great, then let’s push the envelope and find new ways to increase our personal liberties while also securing sustainable paths to energy, food and water. Can you think of a better time to reinvent ourselves and the way we do things in this country?