It’s well known that in recent years, this country has seen its electoral politics polarized to an extent that has only rarely been paralleled in American history. But that polarization in many cases goes far beyond anything resembling mainstream discourse, extending to men and women who are linked to hate groups and racial, ethnic, religious, anti-gay and antigovernment extremism, or who promote extremist propaganda. Their baseless claims typically include demonizing propaganda about certain minority groups, or conspiracy theories that have the same demonizing subtext. [And several of these extremists are incumbents running for reelection, including:]
[U.S. Rep.] Michele Bachmann (R-Minn., incumbent)
Office sought: U.S. House of Representatives (6th District)
Since her election to Congress in 2006, Bachmann has become better known for her controversial statements than for her legislation. A staunch Christian evangelical influenced by the writings of Christian Dominionists like Francis Schaeffer, she is also known for conspiracy-laden claims about things like vaccines (they cause children to become retarded) and people like Muslims (Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin is part of the Muslim Brotherhood). She claims that President Obama is somehow responsible for the swine flu outbreak in 2009. She also has said that if LGBT people get rights, everybody else will lose theirs, adding that LGBT people are “target[ing] your children.” Bachmann announced that she wouldn’t fill out her 2010 census forms completely because data from it is shared with the FBI and other groups. As proof, she claimed that census data was used by the Roosevelt administration to round up Japanese Americans in World War II (it wasn’t).
[Bachmann is the Tea Party Caucus founder and Chairperson]
U.S. Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C., incumbent)
Office sought: U.S. House of Representatives (3rd District)
Originally a Democrat, Jones switched to the Republican Party in 1994 and has won every election in his district handily since then. He has moderate views on some issues – he has sided with Democrats in the past to raise the minimum wage, for example, and is known as anti-war — but on others, like immigration, he is much further to the right. He introduced the Illegal Alien Crime Reporting Act of 2011, which would have required federal agencies to report on crimes committed by undocumented workers, earning him accolades from hard-line nativist groups like the FIRE Coalition. Another key player in the U.S. anti-immigrant network, NumbersUSA, gave Jones one of its top 10 scores for his stands on immigration enforcement. Jones, a strong supporter of Arizona’s draconian S.B. 1070 anti-immigrant legislation, has also co-sponsored legislation to end the citizenship of children born in the U.S. to parents who are not citizens, a right guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. But he probably attracted the most attention when he was a guest in September 2012 on the Memphis-based radio talk show “Political Cesspool,” which is hosted by white nationalists James Edwards and Eddie Miller. Jones went on the show to talk about legislation he has co-authored that accuses President Obama of impeachable offenses regarding events in Libya. Jones later said he didn’t understand the political leanings of the show’s hosts, who have had a parade of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, Holocaust deniers and others on the extreme political right as guests, despite the fact that the show’s plain-spoken mission statement is, “We represent a philosophy that is pro-White.”
U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa, incumbent)
Office sought: U.S. House of Representatives (5th District)
King has been in Iowa politics for more than 15 years now. He served as a state senator from 1996-2002 and, when a new congressional district was created in 2002, he ran for and was elected to the U.S. Congress. King has supported anti-Muslim conspiracy theories and expressed support for racial profiling in law enforcement, claiming that it’s not discriminatory. He has spoken at events with Tom Tancredo, the immigrant-bashing former Colorado congressman, and ardently defended nativist Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio. In 2010, he opined that U.S. immigration policy should be like picking the best dogs out of a litter. Two years later, he backed U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (see above) in her baseless claim that State Department official Huma Abedin was an operative of the Muslim Brotherhood, saying Abedin’s family was “deeply entrenched” in the organization. When Obama was running for president in 2008, King said that because Obama’s middle name is Hussein, if he were elected “the al-Qaida, and the radical Islamists and their supporters will be dancing in the streets.” Also in 2012, at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the premier annual conference for conservatives, King spoke at a panel sponsored by the nativist group ProEnglish that dealt with the purported evils of multiculturalism and how it weakens American identity. King was in interesting company: Bob Vandevoort from Chicago, who once led the white nationalist group Chicagoland Friends of the American Renaissance, a magazine whose editor has said that black people are incapable of sustaining civilization; and Peter Brimelow, founder of the racist website VDARE, which is named after Virginia Dare, the first English (read: white) child born in America. King spoke about his bill to make English the official language of the U.S. and said that Brimelow, who seeks a whiter United States, “wrote eloquently about the balkanization of America.”
[King is a member of the Tea Party Caucus.]
U.S. Rep. Allen West (R-Fla., incumbent)
Office sought: U.S. House of Representatives (18th District)
Backed by the Tea Party, the anti-Muslim and anti-gay West has made a name for himself with controversial statements and actions. He first ran for office in 2008 (he was not elected) after retiring from the U.S. military in 2004 as a lieutenant colonel. Prior to his retirement, he was fined $5,000 and relieved of his command without a court martial in connection with his interrogation of an Iraqi police officer. West was unrepentant and was supported by various far-right groups, including David Horowitz’s Muslim-bashing, online FrontPage Magazine, which named him 2003 “Man of the Year.” In 2007, West wrote monthly columns for Pam Geller’s anti-Muslim hate blog, Atlas Shrugs, while he was in Afghanistan doing military contracting. Finally elected to Congress in 2010, he attempted to hire Joyce Kaufman, an immigrant-bashing radio host, as his chief-of-staff. But Kaufman resigned amidst a major controversy generated by her nativist comments. During his two years in Congress, West has claimed that women who support Planned Parenthood are “neutering American men”; said that the Congressional Progressive Caucus is made up of secret members of the Communist Party; described people with pro-Obama bumper stickers as a threat to the gene pool; and demanded that President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, all top Democrats, “get the hell out” of America.
[West is a member of the Tea Party Caucus.]
Click here to see some of the non-incumbent extremist candidates who are running for office this fall or who ran earlier in the year.