-- conservative talk show host, Jan Mickelson
Yesterday, I made a quip here that while so many Republican candidates for president were talking about repealing the 14th Amendment, it was worth noting that the passage in the amendment about how "All Persons born in the United States were citizens" was written to ensure citizenship rights to slaves. To which I added, "So, Republicans can't want that, one hopes."
Just a day later, it's so nice to see Mr. Mickelson make me this prescient. Thanks, guy.
It will not shock you to learn that the radio host didn't stop there. A few moments later, he laid out his plan for dealing with immigration, the heart of which was...well, slavery. (I won't explain the details, it's up to him how to spread the word.) But when he finished, he added, just to drive the point home to the caller, "You think I'm just pulling your leg. I am not."
Actually, to set Jan Mickelson's mind at ease, the truth is, no, I don't remotely think he's just pulling my leg. He'll be happy to learn that I take him at his word. He can rest assured that I believe that he doesn't know what's wrong with slavery, and wants to create a plan that perpetuates it.
I want to be clear -- I don't think this means the Republican Party supports slavery. The party doesn't. I also don't think conservatives do, either. Nor even the Far Right. I do, however, think that there are pockets of people among extremists in the GOP who don't think slavery is all that bad a concept and others dotted throughout the party who still think it's a shame the South didn't win the Civil War, and they're populated with far more such members than is healthy for a balanced society.
The GOP today makes it difficult not to believe that. Again, not that the Republican Party even remotely believes it. It doesn't, period. But it gives safe haven to those who do. As I also wrote yesterday, its leading candidate for president has poll numbers that rise when he smears Mexicans as rapists, and calls women fat and ugly and pigs, without being taken to task by most of his fellow competitors. When Republican leaders go around blithely demeaning children of Hispanic heritage born in the U.S. as nothing more than "anchor babies." When for six years, we've seen the black President of the United States referred to as a Nazi Kenyan Socialist traitor and worse, with all manner of racist disparaging smears piled on him by Republican Party members. When the Confederate flag remains a mark of pride and honor for many in the GOP. When conservative hosts, analysts and callers give support to the George Zimmermans of the world and to police who shoot and kill unarmed black men and women. When Republican presidential candidates want to repeal the amendment that gives due process and equal protection under the law to all Americans.
No, none of this is the same as being okay with slavery. There's a huge gap. But it's all part of a groundwork that gives aid and comfort and protective cover those within the party who do, and to those in the party who know they can say such things to a big enough audience while not creating a party outrage that will drive them off the air into the backwoods hiding.
The important thing here isn't that there is small pocket of racists in the GOP who are okay with slavery and others who have radio shows and listener support. It's that everything I mentioned two paragraphs above this is becoming the norm for too much of today's Republican Party, at least to the point where it's understood and accepted without indignation.
All political parties have outliers on the fringe. (Though, in fairness, in most parties the outliers are so far on the edge that they are at precarious risk of falling off. In the GOP, however, it seems as if the outliers have been given enough land on the distant horizon to set up camp -- and even have their own radio frequencies, just to stay in touch.) But most political parties do not have weighted centers which tilt the balance so much that those on the remote fringe have a better chance of sliding to the middle than they do of dropping into the abyss.