Bill McCollum was my opponent in my first congressional race in 1996. Although Bill and I agreed on virtually nothing when it came to public policy, Bill was a genuinely decent man who treated me, and his constituents, with respect as we debated the issues facing the electorate. But that was then – a time when there were two major, and relatively sane, political parties in America, and “legitimate political discourse” did not include insurrection and seditious attacks on the machinery of government.
Today, however, it’s no longer “your father’s Republican Party.” The once proud party of Lincoln has gone awry. It’s become a cult, peopled by a new breed of militaristic, authoritarian radicals whose fealty to a disgraced and twice-impeached former president characterizes its operating DNA. And nothing personifies the devolution of the modern GOP more than the chilling video of Cory Mills, a candidate for Congress in Florida’s 7th CD, toting his automatic weapon and expressing unbridled glee about how his company had created the tear gas used against peaceful “left-wing” protesters: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7OH3e2hXh0
And it’s not just Mills who defines this dangerous shift in the GOP’s persona. All over the country, right-wing candidates promising to save the nation from its imagined enemies are crafting ads hinting at their anti-democratic agendas. In Ohio’s 9th CD, J.R. Majewski, who recently won his Republican primary, charges toward the camera in his campaign commercial, and with gun in hand, promises to “do whatever it takes” to return America to “its former glory.”
These toy soldiers who harbor dreams of serving in Congress are a dangerous new strain of self-styled patriots, and should have no place in America’s electoral system. Sporting dangerous weapons, supporting violent attacks on their fellow citizens, and swearing to do “whatever it takes,” is not the type of behavior that we should countenance from our office-seekers. These modern Republican candidates pose a real danger to our republic and need to be soundly rejected by the voters before their type of scorched-earth politics destroys the fabric of American democracy.