Editorial: A warning shot for the GOP
If Republicans don’t think the calls to violence from Republican politicians — ranging from Sarah Palin to Tea Party favorite Rep. Michele Bachman, R-Minnesota — have a caustic and negative effect on the nation’s political discourse, perhaps they should tune into what just happened among a handful of Republican party officials there: they resigned out of fear of their personal lives and because of how rightwing Tea Party members were treating moderate Republicans.
As reported in the Arizona Republic, “a conflict that has been going on between local Arizona Republicans came to an end in the wake of the shooting in Tucson on Saturday when Arizona’s Republican District 20 Chairman Anthony Miller and several others chose to resign.”
Miller, 43, a former campaign worker for Sen. John McCain and who is African-America, stepped down from his party post saying that he had been repeatedly called “McCain’s boy” and after an audience member recently made the symbol of a gun with his hand and pointed it at him.
“I wasn’t going to resign (because of those incidents) but decided to quit after what happened Saturday (to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords),” Miller told the Arizona Republic. “I love the Republican Party, but I don’t want to take a bullet for anyone.”
The Republic reported that Miller is not alone. The newly-elected Dist. 20 Republican secretary, Sophia Johnson, first vice chairman Roger Dickinson, and former district spokesman Jeff Kolb, also quit.
“This singular focus on ‘getting’ Anthony [Miller] was one of the main reasons I chose to resign,” Kolb was reported to have written in an e-mail to another party activist.
The Republican response? “It’s too bad,” said Sen. John McComish. “He didn’t deserve to be hounded out of office.”
Too bad? It’s outrageous! To have to worry that fellow Republicans might shoot at your house because of the moderate views you hold should be a nail in the coffin of any sane political movement. Yet, this is today’s Republican Party? This is the party of Abraham Lincoln? This is the party adhering to Reagan’s “big tent.”
Hardly. It is a party set to fall apart at its seams if it won’t shame those members who preach hate and violence, including the radio and television personalities who make hundreds of millions of dollars each year catering to a rightwing audience that feeds on anger.
Unless Republican leaders condemn such violent speech in forthright terms and don’t shy away from rightwing bullies and their mass audiences, it’s a party doomed to incivility, bigotry and political demise.
Angelo S. Lynn