Lawmaker Spreads Militia-Based Spiritual Warfare Across the Region

Ever since he was first elected to the Washington Legislature in 2008, Rep. Matt Shea (R-Spokane Valley) has been a favorite speaker at right-wing events. From militia meetings to anti-choice rallies and anti-Indian conferences, if a group needs an ultra-conservative ideological firebrand, Shea fits the bill. His impassioned speeches combined with his status as an elected official make him a desired addition to any lineup of right-wing speakers.

However, until the last few years, Shea was a Tier 2 speaker in the Pacific Northwest region. Right-wing activists knew who he was, but a significant piece of his draw was his “representative” title. That changed when he actively supported the armed standoffs the Bundy Family had with federal agencies in both Nevada and Oregon. This catapulted Shea into the Tier 1 category; however, this upgraded status has also resulted in more scrutiny from the media and public.

 

The militia movement is part of the anti-government “patriot” movement [see inset box below]. The movement’s uber-nationalism is closely tied to other conservative, rural, white, Christian survivalist movements that are often conspiratorial, anti-Semitic, and sometimes violent. The “patriot” movement has historically had a consistent presence in the American West.

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