did the Republican Party -- once known as the party of "law and
order" -- become a party that could provide space for
lawbreakers and extremists, thugs and criminals, hoodlums and hate
groups? This astonishing transformation can only be attributed to the
presidency of Donald Trump, whose words during the 2016 campaign and
during his term in the White House helped make America safe for
supremacists, Infowars conspiracy theorists and convicted criminals
are running, some as viable candidates, on the GOP ticket on the
state and federal level, something which would have been unheard of
only a few years ago.
individuals are not barred from putting their hat in the ring and
aspiring for elected office, but it is remarkable that party leaders
have by and large not shown the backbone to condemn them. But in a
way that's not surprising in a party where extremism and intolerance
are mainstream GOP fare, and its standard bearer runs an ethically
challenged administration mired in criminal investigations. Trump
said he would drain the swamp, but he is the swamp, and he is sending
swamp-dwelling creatures to the Senate, Congress and the state house.
is no longer a barrier to entry for GOP candidates. There is nothing
wrong with people being formerly incarcerated. After all, in a
country that preaches rehabilitation yet practices gratuitous
imprisonment and punishment for its own sake, society should
encourage those who turn over a new leaf and want to contribute to
their country through public service.
keep in mind that we are not talking about the rehabilitated here.
The candidates in question are doubling down on corruption and hate
in Trump's party. Even former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn
-- who is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to lying to the
FBI in connection with the Russia investigation -- is hitting the
campaign trail and stumping for them.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is running for Senate, after
receiving a pardon from Trump for a contempt of court charge for
failing to curb his anti-immigrant and anti-Latino racial profiling
policies in violation of civil rights. Accused of racism and
mistreatment of Latino prisoners, Arpaio
failed to investigate over
400 sex crimes -- including the molestation of undocumented children
inmates wear pink underwear,
called his tent city for inmates a concentration camp, and
established the first chain gangs for juveniles and women.
a prominent Birther who questioned President Obama's citizenship,
the blessing of
Vice President Mike Pence, who, apparently rehearsing for a
sooner-than-expected spot in the Oval Office, called Arpaio, "A
great friend of this president, a tireless champion of strong borders
and the rule of law."
West Virginia, Don
the former coal mining company head who went to prison for a year on
mine safety charges that were
a disaster that killed 29 miners, is challenging Democratic Sen. Joe
Manchin. Blankenship claims
it was not racist to call Sen. Mitch McConnell's father-in-law a
"wealthy Chinaperson." (Donald Trump Jr. has urged voters
in West Virginia to
reject Blankenship and
a GOP-establishment linked PAC is running
him, according to Politico.)
Staten Island, New York, former FBI agent and Rep. Michael
who pleaded guilty to tax evasion, is making
as a Trump loyalist after serving seven months behind bars. During
his first stint in Congress, Grimm also threatened
to break a reporter "in half" in 2014 following President
Obama's State of the Union address.
against Rep. Maxine Waters in California is Omar
who pleaded guilty to placing a tracking device on his wife's car.
The extreme right wing, pro-Trump candidate has support from Michael
conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, and Navarro says
Roger Stone serves as his adviser. And Rep. Greg Gianforte, who
assault after body slamming a reporter, is running for re-election in
from Right Wing Watch, a project of People for the American Way,
shines the light on a dozen far-right candidates who, typically
inspired by Trump, are driving the Republican Party and American
politics to the fringes. One of these people is Arthur Jones, who
denies the Holocaust and was denounced as a Nazi by Illinois
Republicans, yet became the GOP nominee in Illinois' 3rd district.
a white supremacist who is a self-described "pro-White Christian
American candidate" vying for House Speaker Paul Ryan's seat in
Wisconsin. Black Trump supporters Diamond and Silk received
$7,000 to star in a campaign ad supporting Nehlen. Twitter
after he posted
a photo depicting Prince Harry's biracial fiancée Meghan
Markle as "Cheddar Man," a 9,000-year old dark-skinned
Jackson, a black right-wing pastor, hopes to unseat Sen. Tim Kaine in
Virginia. The homophobic candidate called
people "perverted," "degenerate," "spiritually
darkened" and "frankly very sick people psychologically,
mentally and emotionally" and said homosexuality "poisons
culture, it destroys families, it destroys societies; it brings the
judgment of God unlike very few things that we can think of."
Jackson is running in the primary against Corey Stewart, who is
running on a Confederate nostalgia platform and compared those who
would remove Confederate statues to ISIS.
and fringe candidates, although they often lack political viability,
are able to influence the races they participate in by forcing
unearned oxygen toward the bizarre, dangerous and destructive reaches
of the right-wing movement," the Right Wing Watch report said.
"Some are the longest of long shots, others have a real path to
victory, but all are hoping to pull the conservative movement further
toward the fringes of the right."
of all political affiliations must stop and wonder where this country
is headed when hate group members, wingnuts and unrehabilitated
ex-offenders are gunning for elected office representing one of the
two major political parties in America. Some of them even have a
chance of winning. This is all the proof you need that the GOP is
running to the extremist right, and is threatening to push US
politics off the cliff.