I appeared on NPR on Wednesday and was surprised to hear a caller say that Sen. Ted Cruz should be charged with sedition. "I'm really baffled by the fact that the discussion has not ever reached the point where charges of sedition should be brought up against him for conspiring and bullying others to work with him to undermine the American economy … full faith and credit," the caller said. "He's done so much damage to the standing of the United States in the world. And if you read the Sedition Act, it seems like it really applies."
A colleague on the panel, the Wall Street Journal's Sudeep Reddy, assured the caller, "There is no possibility of that." And the conversation moved on. But it turns out that in a few corners of the left, there are activists who would like to see Cruz, along with other Republicans and conservatives who have expressed strong opposition to Obamacare, charged with inciting rebellion against the United States government.
After Cruz and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin appeared together last weekend on the National Mall, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow reported the event in front of a screen with pictures of Cruz and Palin and the title LATEST SEDITION. Maddow did not utter the word itself, but viewers certainly got the message.
On the activist website MoveOn.org, there are multiple petitions calling for Cruz and others to be charged with sedition. In one, the petition writer adopted a very broad and somewhat fuzzy standard under which Cruz should be sent to jail: "Sedition is overt conduct, such as speech and organization, that is deemed by the legal authority to tend toward insurrection against the established order," the petition says. "Sedition may include any commotion, though not aimed at direct and open violence against the laws. Sedition is the stirring up of rebellion against the government in power." Another petition adds "insurrection" to Cruz's indictment.
And it's not just Cruz the lefties seek to prosecute. One particularly energetic petitioner lists 61 people "known to date to have conspired against the United States government to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of a law of the United States by forcing the government to shut down." Among those targeted are many of the usual suspects — the Koch brothers, Rand Paul, Mitch McConnell, Mike Lee and others. But the list also includes Grace-Marie Turner, head of the Galen Institute; Michael Grebe, head of the Bradley Foundation; Angelo Codevilla, a retired professor of international relations; Craig Shirley, the public relations man and author of books on Ronald Reagan; Edwin Meese, Reagan's attorney general; and many others.
Grace-Marie Turner? Sedition? It turns out that in the world of some left-wing websites, there are a lot of insurrectionists to punish.
Finally, at the DailyKos, a reliable place to look for stuff like this, a popular post notes that protesters who take to the streets for liberal causes (like "Moral Monday" in North Carolina) have sometimes faced arrest. "But Ted Cruz and his posse of traitors can engage in outright sedition and the actual destruction of America without fear of anything more serious than losing an election?" asks the diarist. "Something is very, very wrong with this upside-down state of affairs." Another post, headlined "Prosecute The Conspirators Who Plotted The Government Shutdown In Violation Of 18 USC 2384.," continued: "These individuals acting in concert have gone far beyond the free speech protected by the 1st Amendment," the diarist writes, "protections up to which they are only entitled to the point of causing 'clear and present danger.' "