COMMENTARY | If you were thinking that the Republican Party might be having a bit of an identity crisis since the 2012 elections, you would be correct. It is why there’s been so much political hand-wringing over the future of the party, why it should gear its message to be more inclusive and stop being the “stupid party.” But there are those that believe that being a member of the GOP is a blood oath and to disregard the party line should be met with swift and lethal consequences. Such were the thoughts of one Republican conservative in Arkansas as he chastised Republican state House legislators for being “turncoats” and voting for the Affordable Care Act. And the consequences he calls for? They should be shot.
Actually, Chris Nogy, the husband of the Benton County Republican Party secretary, wrote in the party newsletter that those straying Republicans be “bullet backstops,” a more alliterative way of saying that the Republicans voting for the legislation should be shot. But, as pointed out by Jason Easley at PoliticusUSA , Nogy seemed to be infuriated at his fellow Republicans for all the wrong reasons.
“Part of me feels that this betrayal deserves a quick implementation of my 2nd amendment rights to remove a threat domestic,” Nogy wrote in the newsletter. He later added, ” I don’t feel the same way about the Democrats as bullet backstops as I do about the Republicans who joined them. The Democrats were doing what their party told them they had to do because they were elected to do that job.” And still later, after bemoaning that Arkansas would now get Obamacare: “… our hope of making things better evaporated with the vote of a handful of last-minute turncoats.”
Easley chides Nogy for ignoring the fact that the deal made, where legislation allowed for pro-gun and pro-life provisions to go through (both in line with the GOP platform) while at the same time allowing privatized Medicaid expansion with Obamacare exchanges to be provided for the state’s poor, actually still fits into the GOP wheelhouse. It allows for health insurance via the free market.
Are there members of the GOP that are so immersed in their own ideology that even the slightest straying is grounds for retaliation? Of course there are. However, most call for simple political ostracism, a public rebuke, the withdrawal of support for a pet project. And there are those that condemn the more moderate and socially conservative for being RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) simply for not being conservative enough. Still, that all falls quite short of summarily shooting someone for not toeing the party line.
So what does it say about members of the GOP like Nogy as those that are like-minded? That they have narrowed their ideology to complete conformism to the party, that whatever the party endorses, no one is to claim or display variance? Where is the vaunted conservative ideal of individualism in that? It would appear that Nogy would condone a form of dictatorial communism or fascism based on party ideology (and extreme party ideology at that) rather than the democratic ideal of voting one’s conscience or, when given a moral or ethical dilemma or a conflict with one’s principles, the ability to choose for selfish reasons or the simple advancement of a perceived greater good.
But no. Those Republicans strayed; therefore, they should be shot. Or, rather, they should be used as “bullet backstops.”
So much for independence.
To its credit, the Benton County Republican Committee has condemned the letter .
Recall over the past few years all that rhetoric the Democrats were using, claiming that tea party and extremist Republicans were holding this or that piece of legislation hostage to their narrowed set of principles? There were also those that noted that even Republicans were being held hostage to the dictates of a reactionary and retaliation-minded extreme faction. Not only does it appear that that argument had merit but that some, like Nogy, would countenance only strict adherence to the party line and/or conservative principles.
Bad enough to use polarizing rhetoric to incite or inflame, devalue or denigrate, but when a mere matter of political opinion and the casting of votes becomes the criteria for shooting someone, it truly might be time for a bit of party soul-searching. And when members begin hurling violent solutions to curtail rebellion within a party itself, it might also be a good idea to attempt to understand possible factors within a party’s doctrine that might warp a person’s thinking so far as to turn his back on core conservative principles of individualism and free market strategies to justify shooting another for exercising an understood right of choice.