Matt Bevin
Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

It’s not any kind of original observation to note that Appalachia has moved more dramatically against the Democrats than any other area of the country. And, yes, it began even before the Kenyan usurper took the Oath without supplying even so much as a kiss or an original copy of his long-form birth certificate. Our first hint was when George W. Bush won West Virginia in 2000. Prior to that, the Mountaineers had broken their strong post-Depression preference for Democrats only to vote for the reelections of Ike, Nixon and Reagan. Even though Sen. Robert Byrd endorsed Barack Obama in 2008 (and the Republicans never tire of reminding us that Byrd was once some kind of exalted cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan), the rest of his state and region was not interested in having a secret Muslim in the White House.

Kentucky was never a Democrat-leaning state. It was more of a battleground. But it did vote for Bill Clinton twice before going on some kind of Jim Bunning bender. Like it’s coal-producing neighbor, Kentucky has spent its time since 1996 in pursuit of a crimson red reputation.

It’s gotten to the point now in this region that the Republicans are beginning to wipe out Democrats on the state level. For example, Kentuckians went full-Palin last year and elected Matt Bevin as their governor despite million-watt flashing neon warning lights that the guy is only a few almonds short of a nut bag.

Gov. Bevin is in the news this morning because he was caught on tape making a very novel argument for the rule of law.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin urged a group of preachers to embrace political speech at the pulpit by telling them not to fear a federal law that prohibits candidate endorsements by tax-exempt churches.

Bevin called the federal law a “paper tiger” during an address to preachers at the governor’s mansion last month. A group called Kentuckians Against Matt Bevin posted video captured by someone at the gathering. Bevin says no church has ever been punished under the law.

The governor calls the law “an absolute paper tiger and there is no reason to fear it, there is no reason to be silent.”

As the Associated Press reports, this law that is supposedly never enforced (and therefore not a law?) has been on the books since 1954, and it states that no tax-exempt organization may participate or intervene in any “political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office.”

I only need to go back as far as September 1st to discover that Donald Trump was fined $2,500 this year by the Internal Revenue Service for violating the tax code when he made a political contribution via his tax-exempt Donald J. Trump Foundation. That’s a pretty mild slap on the wrist, it’s true, but Matt Bevin wasn’t offering to pay these pastors’ tax attorneys and federal fines.

The thing is, Gov. Bevin is the opposite of hinged, which he made clear in August when he asked his supporters a non-rhetorical question about a future with Hillary Clinton in the White House:

“Whose blood will be shed? It may be that of those in this room. It might be that of our children and grandchildren. I have nine children,” he said. “It breaks my heart to think that it might be their blood that is needed to redeem something, to reclaim something that we, through our apathy and our indifference, have given away. Don’t let it happen.”

Do you remember back in 1992 when Jerry Brown told his frothing hordes that their children would need to die if Poppy won a second term?

Yeah, that never happened. Matt Bevin isn’t normal. Both sides don’t do this.

I wasn’t born until the end of the 1960s, so until now I only read about governors proudly advising their citizens to defy federal laws because the folks in DC didn’t have the guts to enforce them. I suppose the end of Jim Crow did seem apocalyptic to some folks but Alabama’s football team is still winning national championships so I think it worked out alright in the end.

It’s weird that we’re getting back to a similarly nasty level of cultural war. The Kentucky pastors will fan out and redeem the nation with Matt Bevin as their Savonarola.

And when Hillary wins, these folks will revert back to law-abiding citizens, right?


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Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at