“Patriot” Watch, Ctd. 7 – Jim Crow Edition

There has not been a “Patriot” Watch post on Semi-Partisan Sam for several months now, but this does not mean that America’s true patriots (ha) have been derelict in their duties. And by “duties”, I mean their habit of saying ever more outrageous things, associating themselves with thoroughly debunked ideologies and individuals, and generally causing embarrassment to mainstream conservatives who doesn’t necessarily view every implementation of an Obama policy as a call to reach for their muskets and tri-corner hats to march to Washington.

Honoring America...
Honoring America…

Salon Magazine has been keeping tabs, and has published a list of what they call “seven crazy right wing statements” that took place in just the past seven days. It is not an edifying spectacle:

1. Ted Cruz: We need 100 more like Jesse Helms in the Senate

2. Glenn Beck: War is a progressive idea so I am now against it

3. Alex Jones: Globalist cyborgs are coming

4. Stuart Varney and Monica Crowley: EPA is trying to suffocate children

5. Minnesota archbishop: Satan is behind gay marriage

6. Texas GOP gov. candidate tweets that Wendy Davis is “too stupid to be governor.”

7. Internet advice from a nobody who wants to ruin perfect strangers’ lives: Dads, don’t educate your daughters!

Readers can delve into each of these gems at their own leisure; for the purposes of this entry I will focus on just one – Senator Ted Cruz’s unfortunate speech at a Heritage Foundation event honouring the late Senator Jesse Helms. Salon sums up Helms’ character and accomplishments thus:

For those who don’t remember, here are some of the fun-filled, wacky things Helms said and did:

  • He sang the confederate anthem “Dixie” in an elevator with Carol Moseley-Braun, the African-American senator from Illinois, and told Sen. Orrin Hatch in front of her that he was trying to make her cry.
  • He opposed integration, or “mixing of the races,” and called the University of North Carolina the “University of Negroes and Communists” because it was integrated.
  • He led a one-man, 16-day filibuster opposing the designation of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a holiday, and threatened to lead one to save South African apartheid.
  • More comically, as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he seemed unable to absorb the fact that the North Korean president’s name was Kim Jong Il, not Kim Jong 2.
  • Unlike other like-minded Southern politicians Strom Thurmond and George Wallace, Helms never disavowed his racist, segregationist views even on his deathbed in 2008.

And this is the man that Ted Cruz chose to praise. In public.

Children, never meet your heroes. Never meet them, for you are bound to be disappointed. This blog has been an unabashed supporter of the likes of former Texas congressman Ron Paul and his son, Kentucky senator Rand Paul, for some time. Frankly, their libertarian, small government message and advocacy for the “real people” as opposed to the moneyed and powerful special interest and elites is a very attractive political quality, albeit one that is dulled somewhat by their obsession with gold and abolishing the Federal Reserve.

But it seems that every time a seemingly viable libertarian-leaning politician emerges on the scene, they manage to torpedo themselves by doing something terribly naive, untoward or downright foolish. In the case of Paul Sr. we had the racist articles in the Ron Paul Newsletter, and in the case of Ted Cruz, the latest rising libertarian star, we now have recorded video footage of him praising an unrepentant racist and segregationist politician for going to Washington D.C. and “saying crazy things”.

Rachel Maddow does a good a job as any of expressing revulsion at Cruz’s decision to praise Helms in such a way:

 

With the Republican Party today, it always seems to be one step forward followed by two steps back. There were initially hopes after the 2012 election that the GOP might revise its stance on immigration reform so as to avoid demographic suicide in the coming decades, but this was swiftly followed by derogatory talk of latino “wetbacks” and children with “calves the size of cantaloupes” (from hauling drugs across the border, apparently) coming from elected Republican lawmakers.

Similarly, with the (at least partial) discrediting of the big-government, big-spending, deficits-be-damned, hawkish neo-conservative wing of the Republican party, it seemed as though an influx of new voices (such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio) might lead the GOP to a more appealing, sustainable stance in favour of protecting the rights of the average person rather than the moneyed special interest. One step forward. But, of course, this was followed by lots of shrieking about the unstoppable tide of Obamaist socialism in America, and coddling up to birthers and out-and-out racists. Two steps back.

Not enough people for the GOP to win a national majority again.
Not enough people for the GOP to win a national majority again.

Most of the reasons that this stance is so attractive to Republicans in the short term but so decisively in the medium to long terms have already been covered on this blog and elsewhere. But one angle that perhaps has not been discussed enough is the off-putting effect that these unsavoury positions have on younger voters. We have already seen the GOP reduce their opposition to gay marriage in light of its growing approval, seeming inevitability and support among young people.

Senators Cruz et al. would do well to remember that young people are also, generally speaking, not great fans of racism, segregation or Jim Crow laws, and that speaking at events honouring dead politicians who unabashedly supported all of these things is terrible, terrible PR for the party among new and future voters.

I beg the GOP, as someone who is naturally conservative and libertarian, and would have voted Republican in a previous age – courting the fringe as you are doing now is not worth the damage you are doing to the country, the two-party system or your own future political prospects.

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