The good news is that the Republican county committee for Luzerne County, in northeastern Pennsylvania, wants to kick out it’s white-supremacist member.
The bad news, obviously, is that there’s a white supremacist now serving on the Republican committee for Luzerne County. Or, as Rebecca Schoenkopf put it, “Pennsylvania GOP Now Just Straight Up Electing Actual Curb-Jobbing Nazis.”
That Wonkette headline accurately describes Steve Smith, who is co-founder of a racist skinhead group called Keystone State Skinheads, and member of several other hate groups. But it’s not true to say that the “GOP” elected this idiot.
Apparently, Smith wrote himself in as a candidate and received just a single vote, his own. As Leah Nelson reports for the SPLC’s Hatewatch:
The seats [were] apparently not hotly contested: Pittston City Ward 4’s other GOP committee member was elected with two write-in votes.
Once the Luzerne County GOP realized who this guy was, they set about trying to find some way to get rid of him. The party is not thrilled to have Steve Smith serving as a Republican official.
Nor was the Idaho Republican Party thrilled to have Shaun Winkler run as a candidate for sheriff in Bonner County. Winkler is a racist loon and belongs to a branch of the deadliest terrorist organization in American history:
Shaun Winkler, a Republican candidate for sheriff in [Bonner] County, Idaho, showed off a slice of his family life last Friday. After clearing it with friends and family, Winkler allowed reporters to attend a monthly get-together at his compound. Winkler, a member of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and a former staffer for the Aryan Nations, was hosting an old-fashioned cross-burning.
Winkler got crushed in the Republican primary, finishing a distant third.
Idaho Republican leaders also denounced Winkler’s views forcefully and unambiguously: “The philosophy of racism and racial superiority is not acceptable here,” Bonner County Republican chair Cornel Rasor said.
So these stories have at least two things in common: 1) Men espousing hardcore, Reconstruction-era racist beliefs ran for office as Republicans; and 2) The Republican Party wishes they hadn’t.
Here’s a third example, this one from a U.S. Senate race in Wyoming.
Thomas Bleming, a candidate for the U.S. Senate from Wyoming, has posted anti-Semitic videos on his Facebook page.
Among Bleming’s postings is a video he labeled “the eternal Jew, updated for 2010.” “The Eternal Jew” is a notorious Nazi propaganda film that described Jews as “parasites” intent on world domination.
The video posted by Bleming, who announced last week that he would challenge incumbent Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) for his seat, appears to use the original script with contemporary images.
Bleming is a Republican. But you already knew that.
You read that bit about his expressions of extreme bigotry and you knew he was a Republican. Or, rather, you knew that he surely wasn’t a Democrat. You read about a guy like Bleming and you realize that he hates the Democratic Party. You know that he despises the Democratic Party and is certain that it despises him and his views in return.
So you suspect that he’s a Republican, because you know that guys like this are attracted to the Republican Party and that — despite consistent condemnation from Republican officials — they suspect the Republican Party is also attracted to them and to their views in return.
Why is that?
Let’s be clear: These guys are all whackjobs and they in no way represent the official views of the Republican Party or of the majority of Republicans. Whackjobs aren’t rational creatures, and they can choose to attach themselves to any larger institution whether or not that institution welcomes them.
Yet there’s a clear pattern apparent to anyone who looks at this particular form of racist whackjobbery: These guys all consider themselves Republicans.
Why would this be? Why are racists — outright, proud, explicit racists — attracted to the Republican Party? These guys sound like President Andrew Johnson, yet they’re not drawn to Johnson’s party, the Democrats. They are, instead, drawn to the part of Lincoln. The Republican Party condemns their views, explicitly and consistently, yet they remain convinced that, despite such official pronouncements, it reciprocates their affection.
I think it’s because they’re paying attention. No matter how many Republican officials condemn and denounce their views, they also see many other Republicans in good standing espousing the same ideas in slightly more subtle forms. They thus perceive that Republican officials don’t really oppose the substance of their views, only the style in which they are expressed.
After all, they’ve seen others say or suggest the same things they believe, or endorse the same policies they endorse, without such statements and actions drawing any criticism from the party.
Some examples of what I mean:
Republican candidate Jesse Kelly just lost a congressional special election in Arizona. The tea-party favorite “accepted the endorsement of an anti-immigrant group called ALIPAC, which has been accused of having ties to white supremacists and neo-Nazis.”
Republican Rep. Joe Walsh says that African Americans are “dependent on government,” and that Jesse Jackson is trying “to keep African Americans down on some plantation.” Jackson, Walsh said, is a “race-hustler.”
Republican SuperPac funder Joe Ricketts’ first plan for a $10 million negative-ad campaign targeting President Obama was a series of Scary Black Man ads involving Obama’s former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Republican local councilwoman Deborah Pauly is most famous for her anti-Muslim protests. She’s now running for the Orange County (Calif.) Board of Supervisors and her campaign has the support of Republican businessman Robert Walters, who sent Orange County voters a mailing endorsing Pauly that was printed on “Wallace for President” letterhead from the late Alabama governor’s segregationist campaign in 1968.
Republican Rep. Mike Coffman said, “I don’t know whether Barack Obama was born in the United States of America. … He’s just not an American.”
Republican Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett spent a couple of weeks pretending that President Obama might not be qualified to be on his state’s ballot. “I’m not a birther,” Bennett said, while promoting birtherism.
And let’s not forget the recently concluded 2012 Republican presidential primary race, which contained lots of implicit and explicit statements about the supposed inferiorities of “blah people.”
Some of that primary talk was defended — as with Ron Paul’s infamously racist newsletters — as simply a pose meant to appeal to certain voters. As Mitt Romney said recently to explain why he won’t denounce the racist birtherism of Donald Trump, “I need to get 50.1 percent or more.”
Flirting with the racist fringe in order to get to “50.1 percent or more” is not a new idea. It’s been Republican strategy for nearly half a century.
As Charlie Pierce wrote a while back, “Appearing to Be a Racist’ — a Strategy Still“:
It was more than Lew Rockwell and Ron Paul, boys. It was the entire Republican party, and the conservative “movement” that energized it. It’s why Ronald Reagan kicked off his 1980 campaign talking about “states rights” in Mississippi, not half-a-mile from the spot where murdered civil rights workers were buried in a dam. It was welfare mothers driving Cadillacs and young bucks buying steaks. It was the slandering of Lani Guinier as a “quota queen.” It’s all those ID laws in all those states, and the phony ACORN scandal, and virtually everything said by every GOP presidential candidate on the subject of immigration and, in case you haven’t noticed, it’s an awful lot of the problems your people have with Barack Obama. It’s what the pathetic Willard Romney is talking about when he talks about “the entitlement society.” It’s too late to get out from under it now. Without “appearing to be racist” as a good political strategy, there would be no modern Republican party. Modern conservatism would have ceased to exist after the debacle of 1964. Don’t be fobbing it all off on poor Ron Paul.