Republicans love Ronald Reagan. He is championed as the ideal conservative president, often cited as the best this country has seen. He is typically credited with coining the 11th Commandment, “thou shall not speak ill of another Republican,” and perhaps it is the deep admiration he still receives that prevents the GOP and its supporters from realizing what truly terrible advice this is.
For the GOP and every other group, political or otherwise, failing to detach from outlandish and extraneous outliers does nothing but empower their opponents. The Republicans subscribe to a different strategy – one that would make Reagan and his 11th Commandment proud — and that is to stand by members and allies of the GOP no matter how inflammatory or disconcerting the message they convey.
Perfect example? When Ted Nugent struck again last month, calling the president a “Chicago communist raised communist educated communist nurtured subhuman mongrel” in an interview with Guns.com, the backlash from the Republicans was nearly nonexistent. Instead, many came to his defense, claiming that “Uncle Ted is no different than someone like Bill Maher.”
Let’s deal with this “rebuttal” first. Nugent and Maher both use seditious and provocative language, yes, but Bill Maher is an equal-opportunity offender, and the Democratic Party is not using him as a party spokesman. Big difference there.
The true issue here, though, is the Republican party’s failure to denounce his outlandish and debasing comments. As Tim Stanley remarked in an article at CNN.com:
“What is disturbing is that some serious Republican politicians think that he matters and are happy to count him among their endorsements — as though selling records and getting angry make him a spokesman for the masses. Animal from the Muppets also speaks his mind, but we’ve yet to see him headlining a rally for Chris Christie.”
Stanley’s right: Nugent is an uncouth bigot and everyone knows it (he ended the interview by calling Obama a chimpanzee). His influence is fading, if not entirely depleted. Nugent’s comments are primitive and ignorant, and his association with the Republican Party is a nuisance. So why are Republicans still giving him a platform to spew his refuse? Why are Republicans seemingly so intent on following Reagan’s commandment to their own detriment?
When CNN’s Dana Bush asked Ted Cruz what he thought about Nugent’s comment and Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott’s decision to continue campaigning with him, the Senator skirted the question and said simply that “he has been fighting passionately for Second Amendment rights.” Cruz would not even say that he was opposed to associating with the likes of Ted Nugent: When Bush asked if he would ever personally campaign with Nugent the Senator replied, “I haven’t yet, and I’m going to avoid engaging in hypotheticals.”
Shame on you, Ted Cruz, for not being brave enough to speak against your home state Republican Party. When will the GOP realize such behavior isn’t winning them any favor with the general public? It is precisely this sort of behavior that makes me embarrassed for my association with the Republican Party. If we do not dissent and dissociate from the lunatics, racists, and fear mongerers, we will be regarded as a part of them.
I’ll be damned if I’ll be pressured into silencing my (constructive) dissent. It is time to ditch Ted Nugent and all who want to go down supporting him – because I am tired of being embarrassed by the party I am working so hard to restore.