Joni Ernst is well on her way to becoming the future face of the
Republican Party. First, she came from behind in the Iowa Republican
primary last June to win the nomination for the upcoming Senate seat over a
group of wealthy businessmen. Apparently an important factor in that
victory was her famous "as a kid I castrated hogs" ad. Now she is poised
to win the general election next Tuesday. An important factor in that
potential win is this campaign comment: "'I have a beautiful little Smith &
Wesson, 9 millimeter, and it goes with me virtually everywhere,' Ernst said at
the NRA and Iowa Firearms Coalition Second Amendment Rally in Searsport, Iowa.
" 'But I do believe
in the right to carry, and I believe in the right to defend myself and my
family -- whether it's from an intruder, or whether it's from the government,
should they decide that my rights are no longer important.' "
Earlier in the
campaign Ernst "released a new TV ad vowing to 'unload' on Obamacare, in which
she takes target practice at a shooting range with a handgun."
Should Ernst indeed
win it is likely that she will become Right-Wing Female Exhibit One for the
Republican Party. Michelle Bachmann is leaving the House. (Likely
because early polling showed that she would lose this time around to the
candidate who has previously come very close to beating her.) Sarah Palin
is becoming old news and she hasn't been an office-holder in a long time.
So Col. Ernst (she is a light colonel in the Iowa National Guard) would have a
good shot (get it?) at the position. So what does this tell us a) about
the party and b) how the Democrats should attack it.
you say? Ohmygosh, isn't that almost too much to ask? Well, a)
that's the only way they are ever again going to win statewide and local
elections in any significant number, and b) the Clintonesque policy of going
along to get along with which, until very recently President Obama has been in
lock-step, has in the last six years been demonstrated to be a loser, over and
over again. Noises along those lines are starting to be made on the
Democratic left, such as it is, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren out in front, of
course. But more on that in another column (or two or three or four over
the next two years). For now, back to Ernst.
On policy Ernst
holds to the standard right-wing Mantra: government helps everyone and everyone
is dependent on it --- that has to change; Obamacare should be repealed; the
Department of Education should eliminated (and a few others, I should imagine);
Social Security would best be privatized; the family must be strengthened; pork
(not pigs) must be eliminated (on that one she apparently does not know that
Congressional "earmarks," were called "pork" when they were anyone else's,
"bringing home the bacon" when they were yours, were eliminated from the
Congressional appropriations process several years ago); government spending
must be slashed (presumably on everything except subsidies to corporate
farmers, especially if they raise hogs in Iowa); and the budget must be
balanced while the deficit must be eliminated (apparently she is unaware that
it has been steadily dropping over the past several years). The latter two
are or course presented in the usual Republican way without --- because of
course taxes cannot be raised --- any specification as to what further spending
cuts should be made --- perhaps another $600,000,000 from the Centers for
Disease Control, Col. Ernst?
But it's the
special Joni Ernst show that is quite remarkable, and it's that show that will
become one of the main faces of the GOP. First of all, it will become the
party of castration. Of whom and for what, oh, never mind. But if
Col. Ernst gets to the Senate because of an ad boasting that she castrated pigs
on the "family(?)" farm when she was a teen-ager, questions (or at least
thoughts) might be raised like: a) what exactly did she mean by the metaphor?
b) Who did/does she have in mind, possibly among humans? And c) what might she
mean to do with the skill when she gets to Washington.
Actually, that one
would become more of the stuff "The Daily Show" and the late night
comics. Much more serious, and the position that Democrats and Progressives
should immediately and loudly turn against her and her party is the one on guns
and shooting. In an ad she used a gun, not any sort of rational or even
irrational arguments, to illustrate her opposition to Obamacare. Then she
says that she has the right to shoot at any government employee who comes to
her representing a law (or presumably regulation) that she does not like, in
her terms that agent or agency having decided "that my rights are no longer
important." Of course, if it's "government" here, he, she, it or they
would be acting under the prescriptions, proscriptions and requirements of a
law --- that's a LAW, Col. Ernst --- that was passed through the democratic
process, at the Federal, state or local level.
Thus, what this
representative (presumably one elected to the highest legislative office in the
land), a member of the traditional "law and order" party, is saying is that if
she doesn't like a particular law she doesn't have to obey it. Beyond
that she will use a firearm to prosecute her right to disobey the law.
This is of course exactly the position that is taken by hundreds of right-wing
"militias" all around the country. This is the next step in the
dismantlement of our nation of laws. This is the next step on the pathway
towards the coming Second Civil War. This is Lt. Col (!) Joni Ernst, a
member of U.S. armed forces who has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution of
the United States, most likely the next Senator from Iowa, and one of the new
beaming faces of the Republican Party, taking it upon herself to decide was is
lawful and unlawful, what is Constitutional and un-Constitutional, and use
firearms to back up her view.
So far, I have
heard of no Republican voice condemning Ernst's position that she can disobey
any law she doesn't like and use a gun in carrying out that disobedience.
If she does indeed make it to the Senate, I do hope that I will hear many
Democratic and Progressive voices condemning her for it.
Steven Jonas, MD, MPH, MS is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at StonyBrookMedicine (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 35 books. In addition to his position on OpEdNews as a "Trusted Author," he is a Senior Editor, (more...
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