Political Animal


October 11, 2012 10:52 AM No Alternative To Crazy

By Ed Kilgore

In the wake of national shock and hilarity over the latest antics of United States Representative Paul Broun, Jr., a man who makes Allen West look reasonable and well-informed, Charlie Pierce asks a question that’s deeply embarrassing to Georgia Democrats:

The Democratic Party in his home district couldn’t find a single person to stand up and offer the voters in that district a chance not to be represented in Congress by an obvious crackpot. No local assistant DA. No ambitious college professor; the University of Georgia is in this district. Nobody wants to stand up and make the argument that it is better for all concerned that your congresscritter not be a nut. Nobody?

Yeah, it’s a completely noncompetitive district, and sure, embattled Democrats in Georgia have other fish to fry with their limited resources. But Broun really is kind of a special case. He is, after all, the only Republican congressman I’m aware of who attracted a credible primary opponent willing to accuse him of extremism. He didn’t win, of course, but in today’s no-enemies-to-the-Right GOP, you have to be publicly barking mad to even give oxygen to that kind of intraparty criticism.

Maybe next time, assuming Broun doesn’t react to an Obama re-election by Going Gault.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • David Martin on October 11, 2012 11:10 AM:

    I watched Mr. Broun's entire video (well, not paying full attention to all the stuff about the Safari Club) but was taken by his testimony (a Baptist rhetorical form, I think), starting with the usual tale of disillusion with the "mainline" churches in which he'd been raised, some sort of crisis as an adult, and his being saved by Baptists who led him to denounce the Big Bang and Evolution as being from Hell, and to see the truth that the world is just 9,000 years old. Then he went on to denounce those mainline preachers who are sending their church members to Hell by sprinkling their babies rather than doing soul-saving dunking as adults.

    Broun might actually have gotten into a bit of trouble for claiming that his United Methodist, Presbyterian, and Catholic friends are going to perdition. But the video came out too late to help his primary opponent.

    I guess the University of Georgia is too small to make the district suitable for a more moderate Republican. It's a state where white Democrates have nearly disappeared.

    I live in a similar Republican district in Florida, where the Kennedy Space Center is a major employer. Oddly, neighbors seem to be ignoring their own congressman, Posey. They're putting up Allen West signs in their yards.

  • stormskies on October 11, 2012 11:13 AM:

    Broun is but a symptom of a larger cause: the very nature of the types of humans that elected him in the first place.

    And those types of humans are about half of our population.

    That indeed is the truly scary fact about our country, and that fact is the reasons that something like Romney can be as close as he is to becoming the fucking president of our country. Fucking a....

  • Josef K on October 11, 2012 11:20 AM:

    Charlie Pierce asks a question thatís deeply embarrassing to Georgia Democrats

    Not that embarrassing at all, given we're talking about bloodiest-blood-red Georgia here. Would the good citizens of Herr Doktor Broun's district would give the time of day to someone who isn't speaking of fire, brimestone, and the coming apocalypse?

  • c u n d gulag on October 11, 2012 11:24 AM:

    He's da people's choice!
    The smartest, kindest, person in the world couldn't win in a district full of fire-breathing, knuckle-dragging, Jesus freaks.

    And I ask again, who's still against secession?
    And, why, exactly?

  • Ron Byers on October 11, 2012 11:25 AM:

    As long as the Democratic party maintains its 19 state strategy congressmen like Broun will be elected. My biggest complaint about the Democratic party is Obama throwing Howard Dean and his 50 state strategy under the bus.

  • Gandalf on October 11, 2012 11:29 AM:

    I think the dark ages started with the same kind of bullshit.

  • jd on October 11, 2012 11:48 AM:

    Why is he in Congress? Because a great many of his constituents believe exactly as he does. This guy is not a nut or outlier for his district. What he stated is standard fare in fundamentalist circles. This is Baptist land.

  • clay on October 11, 2012 11:56 AM:

    I used to live in Athens. Broun is a legacy. (I believe his father, Paul Broun Sr., used to be a state senator. Democrat, of course.) Athens' former district got gerrymandered all to hell, so liberal Athens is in the same district as every rural, backwoods county from the outskirts of Atlanta to South Carolina.

    But even when Athens was in a more competitive district, the best Democrat we could elect was John Barrow, who turned out to be a hard-core Blue Dog. (That was NOT what he ran as, nor was that his rep on the Athens City Council. Man, what a disappointment. I made calls for him, too!) Wikipedia says Barrow is ďthe last remaining white Democrat in the Deep South".

    My point is that Democrats are pretty powerless here. Their best hope (for good governance, if not for the party) would be to switch registration for the next primary, and vote for Broun's (hopefully reasonable) opponent.

  • T2 on October 11, 2012 12:06 PM:

    @clay....you mention an important point - gerrymandering. All across the nation, as soon as GOP/TP people get the power, they gerrymander the hell out of the place to make sure they stay in power. They are not subtle - just power mad. Texas is a good example, gerrymandering so politically motivated it is overruled by the Courts. But they'll come back and do it again and again and hope they can finally get to the US Supreme Court where their activist judges will rule in their favor.

  • Peter C on October 11, 2012 12:10 PM:

    This is the terrible cost that we pay as a society when running for office is prohibitively expensive. This is the terrible cost that we pay as a society when we have Congressional Districts drawn to achieve partisan objectives. These are problems which our democratic government should address.

    Divided Government is an enormous impediment to solving these problems, though. When there is a hyper-partisan atmosphere, the only agreement we can expect incumbents to forge are rules which favor incumbents.

    In the mean time, our only sound strategy is to have a 50-state strategy Ė to nurture down-ticket candidates in all states and for all offices so that we have a candidate to offer.

    When Congress, as an institution, has an approval rating in the low teens, no incumbent should be seen as a shoe-in. We canít afford to let people like Broun run unopposed. We canít win when we play for the draw.

  • atlliberal on October 11, 2012 12:21 PM:

    Even with a challenger, Broun will get 70% of the vote in his district. If this isn't a great reason to press for redistricting reform, I don't know what would be. Obama got over 45% of the vote in GA in 2008. (more than Kerry did). The problem is, all of those moderates and progressives are crammed into 2 or 3 districts so that Republicans can keep the advantage. I'm thinking that a slogan like:
    "Make your representative accountable to the people"
    would work on voters. Maybe we could get it put on the ballot in 2 years.

  • jjdaddyo on October 11, 2012 12:40 PM:

    As a dyed in the wool, by-God, raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan liberal who now lives in Georgia, I am appalled, but not surprised, by anything/everything Paul Broun Jr. says.
    I live in one of the more Democratic areas (Savannah) and my Congressman is Blue Dog John Barrow. His radio commercials running right now TOUT THE FACT THAT HE VOTED AGAINST THE ACA!
    So I wind up voting for the candidate that votes Republican 30% of the time, instead of the candidate that will vote Republican 100% of the time.

  • mudwall jackson on October 11, 2012 12:50 PM:

    "@clay....you mention an important point - gerrymandering. All across the nation, as soon as GOP/TP people get the power, they gerrymander the hell out of the place to make sure they stay in power. "

    democrats gerrymander too. it's not just a republican thing. gerrymandering needs to go. period. it's just plain bad for democracy regardless of which party is doing it.

    a few nutballs like broun are bound to get elected regardless, but at least in an honestly drawn district, voters would have a fighting chance to get them out of office that they don't have now.

  • Neil B on October 11, 2012 1:06 PM:

    Heh, about such nutters as Broun I can only ask: what part of know don't you understand? BTW more nuttery from the De-R-anged crew came out recently, like about slavery not being all that bad, some girls easy at rape etc. I want to add: we need to shout far and wide that the choice between Obama and Myth Rmoney is not just ... the choice between them. A vote for Mitt is a vote for the Republican Congress as well! (And a right-wing SCOTUS, etc., dont' forget other judicial and agency appointments, and on down the line.) If pundits can't pose this well enough, then tell everyone, post everywhere, let it not be forgotten.

  • CharlieM on October 11, 2012 2:11 PM:

    Gerrymandering can cause isolated whackos to be elected but it's not the problem in GA.
    They're all hell-bent on turning this place into another Mississippi.
    Send help!!

  • ArlEd on October 11, 2012 2:16 PM:

    Unfortunately, given what Congress has done and not done in the past decade or so, who in his or her right mind wants to serve in Congress, even if winning a seat does rid of an idiot who shouldn't be serving there?

  • Don on October 11, 2012 2:22 PM:

    Aside from the futility of some Assistant DA or college professor subjecting themselves to being called communist pinko liberal slime for the rest of their lives for having the audacity to put a D next to their name, maybe the Democrats want to keep him there to make sure they've got an easy target to raise from panicky liberals like me off of.