It’s a new year, and thanks to the Republican Party we’re talking about white supremacist group gatherings, instead of focusing on how to grow the economy to create more jobs, ensure higher wages and equal pay, and expand opportunities to climb the ladder to the middle class. And what’s worse, we’ve seen this movie before. Just like last year with Cliven Bundy, and the Duck Dynasty crew just months before, leading Republican presidential contenders are bending over backwards to defend these elements within their party instead of condemning them.
In short: it’s a new year, but it’s still the same ol’ GOP.
Take a look at some of the Republican Party’s top choices for 2016 then and now:
Rand Paul — In 2014, Rand Paul defended Cliven Bundy and even accused the federal government of violating the law – not the rancher who, to this very day, is defiantly violating the law in Nevada. According to the NYT, Paul “had been one of the most prominent people offering support for Mr. Bundy’s cause” – that is, until Bundy’s vile, racist views came to light, and Paul was forced to backtrack after kowtowing to Bundy’s radical group for days.
Rick Perry and Mike Huckabee — Both Rick Perry and Mike Huckabee were also leading defenders of Bundy. Instead of condemning the budding insurrection in Nevada, Perry said, “I have a problem with the federal government putting citizens in the position of having to feel like they have to use force to deal with their own government,” and added, “I think we have an administration that acts imperialistically.” And Huckabee defended Bundy, calling the federal government “incredibly wrong” in the situation.
Ted Cruz — And what did Ted Cruz say about Bundy? He held him up as an example of our “liberty under assault” and said, “We should have a federal government protecting the liberty of the citizens, not using the jack boot of authoritarianism to come against the citizens.” But Bundy wasn’t the only extremist Cruz has defended. Cruz stood up for Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson after his racist and anti-gay views were condemned nationally, saying, “If you believe in free speech or religious liberty, you should be deeply dismayed over the treatment of Phil Robertson.”
Bobby Jindal — Despite his comments that the GOP should stop being the “stupid party,” perhaps no other 2016 hopeful has been as defensive of Duck Dynasty’s Robertson than Bobby Jindal. When Robertson was criticized for his reprehensible comments, Jindal clamored, “We must not let them silence the Robertsons” and even appeared on their show.
And where are they now on Steve Scalise?
Instead of calling on Scalise to step down from the House leadership or even simply decrying the racist organization he spoke to, Rand Paul offered up a bold “no comment.” Jeb Bush did the same. And Bobby Jindal jumped into a full-throated defense of the embattled lawmaker. And this month, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson will all trek to the Iowa Freedom Summit hosted by tea party firebrand Steve King – who not only defended Scalise amid the controversy but even compared him to Jesus Christ.
So it may be 2015, and we may be gearing up for a big presidential election. But just as in the years before, the tail continues to wag the dog in the Republican Party, with its leading presidential contenders catering to the fringe elements of the GOP instead of standing up to them on behalf of what’s right.
It’s 2015, after all. This shouldn’t be so hard.