Rep. Wamp Considering Secession

July 23, 2010 5:04 pm ET — Alan Pyke

Zach Wamp (R-TN)

Tennessee Republicans will pick their nominee for Governor on August 5. Congressman Zach Wamp has been second in most polls, but having pole position may not matter very much. With 36% of primary voters undecided, Wamp has every opportunity to grab the nomination in the next two weeks.

It's not surprising, then, that Wamp is turning up the heat. But an interview published today in Hotline OnCall makes the prospect of a Governor Wamp frightening:

Rep. Zach Wamp (R-03) suggested TN and other states may have to consider seceding from the union if the federal government does not change its ways regarding mandates.

"I hope that the American people will go to the ballot box in 2010 and 2012 so that states are not forced to consider separation from this government," said Wamp during an interview with Hotline OnCall.

Hopefully this kind of rhetoric only appeals to the fringe — but that, it appears, is Rep. Wamp's base. The Nashville Scene was on hand last month when Wamp told supporters that Chattanooga's economic success is a reward from God for keeping abortion clinics out of the city:

Zach Wamp says if Tennessee will only outlaw abortion, God will give our state new jobs and a booming economy. According to Wamp, God already has blessed the economy of his hometown of Chattanooga for keeping abortion clinics out of the city.

"Let me tell you one of the reasons why Chattanooga is a very blessed city today, why we have so much new economic development and why we're really an anointed city," the eight-term congressman said at a Tennessee Tea Party convention this summer in Gatlinburg.

"There are no abortion clinics in Chattanooga. We made a decision...Our city is blessed. Our state will be blessed as we remove this scourge and plague of killing innocent children in the womb."

Wamp was making separatist rumblings at the Tea Party Convention in May, when he told the crowd that he sleeps with a gun. Now he's playing the secession card openly, in a national media interview. Bold? Sure. Divisive? That too. It's hard to see how unleashing that kind of anger helps to achieve anything practical, other than riling up the base to win a primary.

In Tennessee, where the Republican nominee is expected to cruise this November, this kind of bold summons to civil war and the dissolution of the Union should be scrutinized. If Wamp is going to stir up this kind of ugliness, he'd better have a plan to defuse it next month, win or lose. Anything else would be deeply irresponsible.