All it takes sometimes is a single voice to speak out

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Are there no courageous House Republicans?

One of their colleagues, Rep. David Stringer, has been caught on tape – not once, but twice – uttering racist sentiments and voicing his contempt for immigrants of all kinds, but particularly those who aren’t from European countries and have a darker complexion than the people Stringer thinks make America great.

Stringer also has written, at some length, about his views on immigration and race in a series of columns on PrescotteNews.com, a local news outlet he co-owns. Among his thoughts:

  • Because of immigration, the U.S. has turned from “a nation predominantly peopled by those of European ancestry into a true multiracial society where White people are becoming a minority,” which will lead the U.S. to be “the first nation in history to voluntarily surrender its traditional culture and national identity to other peoples.”
  • “The changing demographics of our country–the immigration that was supposed to enrich us—has likely played a role in hollowing out and ghettoizing our cities, dumbing down our schools and public institutions, increasing welfare dependency and filling our prisons…” Also: “The streets of Phoenix are now filled with the angry voices of ethnic and cultural resentment. Is this not how nations fail – not from external conquest, but thru internal discord?”
  • Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the sheriff’s office he led was innocent of profiling Latino drivers (Editor’s note: it most certainly was guilty) and Arpaio’s conviction for criminal contempt of court was a “political vendetta” by Obama, while the real cause of violence in Charlottesville was counter-protestors, because the white nationalists actually had a permit to be there. He opined that, “whether we speak of Charlottesville or a Federal courtroom in Phoenix, there is blame to share.”
  • The Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965, which eliminated from immigration law a quota system based on national origin that favored Northern Europeans, “gave rise to the unforeseen phenomena of anchor babies and chain migration that has rapidly changed the ethnic composition of the United States” and must be changed to prevent “the dispossession of native born Americans and the challenges immigrants present to our economy and national identity.”

These are the ideals and statements made by white nationalists who are, by definition, racist.

Stringer’s words and beliefs have led to an ever-growing chorus of prominent and powerful Republicans and organizations to call for him to resign, among them Gov. Doug Ducey, Arizona Republican Party Chairman Jonathan Lines, Senate President-elect Karen Fann (who serves the same legislative district as Stringer), Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio, Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk, the Prescott city council and Greater Phoenix Leadership. The Humboldt Unified School District, which serves thousands of students in the district Stringer represents, said he is no longer welcome on its campuses.

But there hasn’t yet been a single Republican in the House of Representatives who has demanded publicly that Stringer step down from elected office. None have even called for him to be censured or have filed an ethics complaint against him.

House Speaker-elect Rusty Bowers, a Mesa Republican, said he feels stripping Stringer of three of his four committee assignments, including one chairmanship post, is adequate.

Would it make a difference if members of Stringer’s caucus also called on him to resign? History shows it probably would.

Barely a year ago, the House was engulfed in controversy because then-Rep. Don Shooter was accused by several anonymous women of inappropriate remarks and unwanted touching. GOP leadership seemed to want the matter to fade away without significant action until Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, a Scottsdale Republican, made a public allegation about Shooter’s behavior and said she shouldn’t have to serve with a colleague who was a serial sexual harasser.

After an investigation, the House on Feb. 1 voted to expel Shooter. (Note: Stringer was one of two people who voted to support Shooter, along with fellow District 1 Republican Noel Campbell.)

In 2011, then-Sen. Scott Bundgaard was accused of physically assaulting his girlfriend in a fight on the side of a Valley freeway. Again, Republican leaders weren’t initially keen on inflicting a severe punishment – until then-Sen. Ron Gould, a Republican from Lake Havasu City, said he wouldn’t abide serving with a colleague who was an unapologetic domestic abuser.

Following an investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee, Bundgaard resigned rather than be expelled.

If House Republicans aren’t willing to stand up against an unabashed racist in their midst, then they’ll prove themselves to be cowards who couldn’t even be bothered to clear the low bar of saying, “Arizona shouldn’t be governed by an outspoken bigot, and we won’t tolerate this.”

Jim Small
Jim Small is a native Arizonan and has covered state government, policy and politics since 2004, with a focus on investigative and in-depth policy reporting, first as a reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times, then as editor of the paper and its prestigious sister publications, the Yellow Sheet Report and Arizona Legislative Report. Under his guidance, the Capitol Times won numerous state, regional and national awards for its accountability journalism and probing investigations into state government operations.

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