The other 49

Sarah Palin was once a member of the Alaskan Independence Party, which advocates secession from the Union.

Published September 2, 2008 2:59PM (EDT)

Before even starting this post, can we just pause for a moment and consider what would have happened to that unpatriotic, American-hating Muslim the Democrats nominated for president if he had been part of a secessionist group led by a man who once said he was “an Illinoisan, not an American”? To borrow Clarence Thomas’ famous phrase, it would been a high-tech lynching.

But here comes Sarah Palin, former member of the Alaskan Independence Party and current Republican nominee for vice president of the United States. ABC's Jake Tapper reports:

Officials of the Alaskan Independence Party say that Palin was once so independent, she was once a member of their party, which, since the 1970s, has been pushing for a legal vote for Alaskans to decide whether or not residents of the 49th state can secede from the United States.

And while McCain's motto -- as seen in a new TV ad -- is "Country First," the AIP's motto is the exact opposite -- "Alaska First -- Alaska Always."

Lynette Clark, the chairman of the AIP, tells ABC News that Palin and her husband, Todd, were members in 1994, even attending the 1994 statewide convention in Wasilla. Clark was AIP secretary at the time.

Oops. The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder clarifies that Palin’s association with the AIP is not ancient history, either, for she addressed the organization earlier this year:

Basically, the AIP wants a vote on secession. According to the organizations' website. "[T]hough it is widely thought to be a secessionist movement, the Party makes great effort to emphasize that its primary goal is merely a vote on secession, something that Party advocates say Alaskans were denied during the founding of the state."

The AIP says that Gov. Sarah Palin used to be a member of the party. Earlier this year, Palin recorded a welcoming address to the AIP's convention.

This is a party whose founding member, Joe Vogler, said: "I'm an Alaskan, not an American. I've got no use for America or her damned institutions."

Lee Atwater must be wincing in his grave right now. If he were alive -- in his pre-conversion/apology incarnation, that is -- and he found this on the résumé of a Democratic vice-presidential candidate, he would have attacked with relish. Unfortunately for the GOP, the candidate associated with people who want to bail on the other 49 states of the United States of America is Sarah Palin.

By Thomas Schaller

Thomas F. Schaller is professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the author of "Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South." Follow him @schaller67.

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