What do Republicans value? Lower taxes, of course, stronger borders, freedom from unwanted government intrusion, a strong military, economic independence and other things. Basically, they value smaller government and bigger freedoms for individuals.
How does Sheriff Joe Arpaio embody these values?
Arpaio, 85, was sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona for over two decades. During his tenure he built “tent city,” an outdoor encampment for prisoners in the 120-degree Phoenix heat which he described as a “concentration camp.” He instituted “round-ups” where Phoenix police would detain migrants without cause. He was ordered by a judge to stop, but he didn’t stop and was charged with contempt of court. President Trump later pardoned him.
He also had a reality TV show, for what it’s worth.
Definitely a lot of border security in there, and we know Republicans love a reality TV star, but before the GOP takes this old-school, no-nonsense lawman in as one of their own, shouldn’t they consider some of the other elements of Arpaio’s story?
Don’t Republicans value human rights? Doesn’t the GOP value the Constitution?
Republicans claim to be the “party of Lincoln,” and they honor him as their first president. The GOP is the party that venerates the Constitution as a holy text, enforcing the law, granting us freedoms and protecting us from the evils of true democracy.
These are ideals that I am very much drawn to. I’d rather be governed by the law than by wishy-washy people any day of the week. I’ve taken core humanities, I’ve read The Lord of the Flies and I’ve heard about the Stanford Prison Experiment. But, how do you support a party that puts people like Sheriff Joe on the stage, a man that violates some of the most basic principles of republicanism? And a man who I’m sure would love to be a guard in the Stanford Prison Experiment.
For a man who has worked in law enforcement his whole life, Arpaio has a mind-boggling lack of respect for the law. He violated people’s rights. He oversaw an inhumane prison system. He ignored his duties as sheriff to engage in political tomfoolery. And, when a judge told him he was violating the Constitution, Arpaio ignored him and hired a private investigator to dig up some dirt on the judge and his wife.
Sheriff Joe gave a speech in Minden on Sunday, his second appearance in Nevada in the last six months. He was the keynote speaker at the sold-out Lincoln Reagan Dinner, a conservative fundraising event.
Lincoln would roll in his grave if he saw his and Arpaio’s name side by side.
I wonder what the crowd was like at this thing. Were people standing up and cheering when Arpaio ranted about Obama’s fake birth certificate? Did they hoot and holler when he bragged about all of the brown people he illegally detained in Arizona? I can only wonder because the event organizers denied press access to The Nevada Independent, which I depend on for such coverage. The First Amendment is in that document they hold so sacred, but it’s probably for the best to avoid coverage of this event.
His appearance was most likely a publicity stunt to attract donors. But, that’s not the way it looks. It looks like Nevada Republicans support Sheriff Joe, and Nevada Republicans should absolutely not do that, even if the president supports him, even if you like that he is strong on border security, even if you think prisoners should have to wear pink underwear, even if you think any conservative is better than a liberal.
Putting people like Sheriff Joe on a pedestal will fracture the Republican party. It will split between members who support people like Arpaio and those who cannot. Public representatives of the party like him will force regular Republicans into hiding. Those who might be outspoken about the party’s values will have to choose whether to publicly support a man with no regard for human rights and no regard for the law. If they choose not to, they will go into hiding. Most will probably choose the latter, and their opinion won’t be heard until election day when they cast a vote for someone they really don’t believe in.
Arpaio does not embody Republican values. He is a mutation of Republican values. He’s like a Frankensteinian monster made up of all the evil things that have unfortunately been bred in the party over the last few years.
Surely, there is a better-suited representative of the party somewhere that can give these keynote speeches. Surely, Nevada Republicans don’t want Sheriff Joe to be their spokesperson.
Opinions expressed in The Nevada Sagebrush are solely those of the author and do not necessarily express the views of The Sagebrush or of its staff. Ryan Suppe studies journalism and philosophy. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @salsuppe