Michael: Gilchrist Mainstreams Racist Extremism in Orange CountyJim Gilchrist, one of the self-proclaimed founders of the 'Minuteman' militia, captured 25% of the vote in a third-party bid for Congress in Orange County's 48th Congressional District. He didn't come close to winning, but his roughly 25K votes made a loud statement. What this shows is how acceptable a politician who allies himself to white supremecists and the fringe militia movement responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing has become to a large minority of the GOP electorate.
Jim Gilchrist has done for the militia movement what David Duke did for the KKK.
This is important to Arizona and national politics in 2006 and beyond. No one really expects any resolution of immigration reform debate before 2006, leaving open a window for extremists to try to exploit fears and resentments around the issue (note that Roy Moore has recently embraced immigration as another hot button issue he can use), not to mention blatant racism thinly disguised as nationalism. One likely recipient of the momentum Gilchrist's performance gives the racist immigration alarmists is our own Randy Graf.
Many commentators have been looking for a moderate, heavy-weight Republican to step up and deny Graf the nomination. With Ray Carroll seeming to be sitting this dance out, Graf's nomination is looking more possible, especially if the militia movement sees an major opportunity in Graf's candidacy.
Arguably, this is good for Democrats, as the Democratic nominee will have a better chance against a loon and a racist than against a reasonable GOP moderate, but is it good for Arizona or America?
Arguably, it is.
Putting the extremist agenda of Graf in the harsh light of a hard-fought election battle presents an opportunity to expose the unwholesome underbelly of militia movement's racism and fascistic eliminationist ideas to the electorate.
If the Democratic nominee has the stomach to take that opportunity, the result could be a healthy purge of those ideas from legitimate American political discourse and relegate it back to the homebrew political handbills and hobby web servers were it can moulder in all its constitutionally protected ignomy. Of course, if the Democratic nominee doesn't have the courage and skill to blunt the immigration wedge Graf will be wielding, this issue could continue to prove effective into the 2008 Presidential election season.
Can you say Tom Tancredo for President? Ugh.