EDITORIAL: Three lessons sparked by a neo-Nazi pulling a quarter of the vote
Subscribe for unlimited digital access.
Try one month for $1!
Subscribe for unlimited digital access. Try one month for $1!
How the hell did a Holocaust-denying white supremacist get a quarter of the vote in Tuesday’s election in Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District?
In all honesty, we hate to even mention by name an anti-Semite like Art Jones, the Republican who lost decisively to incumbent Democrat Dan Lipinski. As Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas tweeted back in June, a “bigoted fool” like Jones should receive “ZERO votes.”
Far from zero, though, Jones got more than 56,000 votes. And when a Nazi makes a 26 percent showing, in a race where the finish line is Capitol Hill, that should be a wake-up call.
Some of those 56,000 people were unabashed haters, just like Jones. No doubt. “There is an element that supports him,” longtime political analyst Don Rose told us.
That said, let’s use this as a teaching moment.
Lesson No. 1: Neo-Nazis, white supremacists and the rest of their ilk are always thrilled to get a chance to vote for one of their own. But you knew that, right?
Then there were the “automatic Republicans,” as Rose describes them. Apparently, they didn’t see Jones handing out anti-Semitic literature in the district and otherwise advertising his views.
They are Republicans, and Jones was the Republican on the ballot. End of story.
“A large number of well-meaning Republicans thought he was a decent nominee,” Illinois Republican Party chair Tim Schneider told us. “They didn’t know otherwise, so unfortunately voted for him.”
Lesson No. 2: Do your homework, voters.
Jones’ candidacy repeatedly made news in the Sun-Times and in media organizations around Chicago, the nation and the world.
Clearly, many voters didn’t read the local and national news stories about him in the run-up to Election Day.
Lesson No. 3: Keep the wackos off the ballot, party officials, by running at least minimally acceptable candidates in every major race, no matter how hopeless the cause.
The Illinois GOP, Schneider said, tried to recruit a legitimate candidate for the race, then challenged Jones’ petitions and supported a write-in candidate. “We did our due diligence,” he said.
But not enough due diligence, apparently. And this isn’t the first time that’s happened.
On Tuesday, it was the GOP and Art Jones. In decades past, it was the Democrats and the those strange Lyndon LaRouche acolytes.
No party is immune to wackos, but the worst of them shouldn’t be allowed to crawl out from under rocks.
Send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org