If anyone thinks right wing madness is losing its grip on the Republican Party, think again. Oklahoma’s Republican Rep. Jim Bridenstine’s recent town hall indicates otherwise: A female attendee called President Obama an “enemy combatant” who should be executed. Bridenstine didn’t call her out for her rant. Instead he went on a dishonest random walk, reframing the president’s executive orders as an abuse of power, pushing another conservative talking point powering the crazy train.
Bridenstine said the administration wants to undermine the Constitution by creating a national gun registry and working with the United Nations to implement an international one. He points to the international Arms Trade Treaty as an attempt to usurp 2nd Amendment rights, but it does nothing of the sort. The UN has no power to overrule U.S. law. The treaty regulates global small arms trade to put a stop to a $70 billion illicit market running guns to conflict regions. (The congressman’s theme is no new. In 2012, Michele Bachmann made a similar argument, accusing the president of working with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood to help them infiltrate the U.S. government and bring about Sharia law.)
If Bridenstine where an honorable man, he would have shut this woman down, or, at least, pointed out that even if one disagrees with the president, one doesn’t do so with seditious speech.
But conservatives by and large refuse to push back against such talk – instead they celebrate it. In the last month, Ted Nugent called the president a “subhuman mongrel” who should get his just punishment for treason. Joshua Black, a Republican candidate for Florida’s House of Representatives tweeted that the president should be hanged. Both got much applause from the far right.
This brand of seditious speech is influencing public opinion. People take their cues from political elites, especially when it reinforces their beliefs in conspiracy. It’s not only magnifying anti-Obamaism, but also dangerously morphing into anti-Americanism. A point pushed in other forms by several conservatives. Pat Buchanan embraced Vladimir Putin as a true conservative, and Sen. Rand Paul called Edward Snowden a hero, despite the fact that Snowden broke laws and fled to Russia.
The GOP would do best to pull the emergency brake on all this talk. Otherwise, the silent majority is very soon going to laugh them off the caboose.