Texans responded to a poll (full results here) about Jade Helm, the Real Military Training (RMT) exercise scheduled to begin in the state next month, with some remarkable and apparently surprising opinions. The conclusion? They don’t trust the government.
The recent uproar in Texas resulting from the announcement that U.S. Special Forces will conduct training exercises in civilian areas in Texas received a great deal of coverage. Such was the citizen outcry in opposition that Lone Star Governor Greg Abbott ordered the Texas State Guard to monitor the exercises. According to a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll released last week, 40 percent of polled Texans who are registered to vote thought Governor Abbott was right to be insistent.
While the governor took heat from national media for giving in to the local "conspiracy theorists," it now appears the media are in the minority. And even with that, one outlet couldn’t let go of the idea that those who are concerned about RMT could be any other than the tin-foil hat crowd.
The poll results drew fire from KUT, the Austin, Texas, affiliate of liberal-leaning NPR, when discussed on air the next day. The show host, when confronted with the evidence that Texans have real concerns about possible federal use of the military against civilians, said, “Are you sure about those numbers? The term wing nut comes to mind.”
Co-director of the poll, Jim Henson, head of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin said, “This [the governor’s action] is an action that played to a very specific audience.” He was referring to Tea Party Republicans — 85 percent agreed with Abbott.
But suspicion about RMT and what it was doing in Texas didn’t stop with Republicans, or at war games. Large numbers think federal military intervention is likely in certain circumstances, including arresting political protestors and violating property rights (50 percent) — smaller numbers believe the military would likely be used to impose martial law or confiscate citizens’ firearms (44 and 43 percent, respectively).
The Texas Tribune questioned Daron Shaw, UT-Austin government professor, who noted, “A substantial number of Democrats — 31 percent on the martial law question — believe federal military intervention is possible.”
“It cuts into everybody’s suspicion. Nobody trusts the federal government. About a third of Democrats are concerned about the government going nuts. Among Republicans, it’s between 55 percent and two-thirds.”
The Tribune poll confirms results of a Rasmussen poll released in May. “But 45% of voters are concerned that the government will use U.S. military training operations to impose greater control over some states, with 19% who are Very Concerned.”
The numbers are significant, and many think the governor’s action didn’t go far enough. The Houston Chronicle reported what many Texas residents in the Jade Helm target areas already know — that they are not being given enough information.
“In March, the Chronicle reported the exercise would have soldiers trying to move undetected through civilian population in Texas, based on interviews with local sheriffs' deputies who'd been briefed by the Army on activities scheduled for their counties. However the Army has since denied that claim, offering scant information about what the 1,200-person drill will actually entail.”
And Texans’ concerns are not being addressed in a meaningful way. The mayors of two small Texas towns in Bastrop County, where a large portion of the training will take place have circled the wagons in support of the operation, urging the citizens to “remain calm.”
Faced with a national government that has created an insurmountable debt, trampled state sovereignty with recent SCOTUS decisions, threatened to subvert national sovereignty via dangerous and secret trade agreements, bullied members of Congress who failed to toe the line, and launched attacks on the Second Amendment, as well as one of the nation’s historical flags (and that’s just one week), Texans have good reason not to trust the feds. Why the state’s county commissioners, city councils, and judges have agreed to continue participation in the face of significant opposition remains a mystery.
The John Birch Society, parent of this publication, has long advocated responsible citizenship — including the duty of each American to know and understand the Constitution of the United States, and to apply its principles. We encourage our community leaders to do the same.