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Just How Crazy is Sharron Angle?

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TPM's Justin Elliott looks at the Nevada Republican's past party allegiance:

The far-right third party that Nevada GOP Senate candidate Sharron Angle called home in the 1990s supported abolishing "the debt money system" and ran a vitriolic anti-gay insert in state newspapers that portrays LGBT people -- or, as Angle's party called them, "sodomites" -- as child-molesting, HIV-carrying, Hell-bound freaks, according to documents obtained by TPM.

As we reported earlier this month, Angle was a member of Nevada's Independent American Party, a Christian conservative-cum-libertarian third party, for at least six years while she was getting her feet wet in politics in the 1990s. Independent American Party members told us that Angle switched to be a Republican in 1997 out of political expediency as she was preparing to make a run for state-level office.

These aren't just "gaffes," as Jon Chait has pointed out, and so they're not akin to Harry Reid sticking his foot in his mouth from time to time (e.g., by referring to Obama as "light-skinned" and without a "Negro" dialect). "To the political journalist, a gaffe is any impolitic statement. But, of course, Sharron Angle hasn't committed "rhetorical screw-ups." She has made numerous expressions of a lunatic worldview." Indeed, as Chait put it elsewhere, "Angle's comments flow naturally from a right-wing ideology that regards taxation as theft and many commonly-accepted practices of government as the equivalent to Bolshevik expropriation of wealth, or at least unconstitutional." And from a right-wing ideology that embraces bigotry and hate.

Obviously, one is not necessarily required or expected to support every single one of one's party's views. You may not support the Democratic Party's position on X, but you may still be a Democrat who supports the party's positions on most other issues. But whereas the Democratic Party, and to a lesser extent the Republican Party, is an umbrella organization containing a number of different views, some of them at odds with each other (e.g., there are pro-choice Republicans), the IAP, the Nevada state affiliate of The Constitution Party, is a narrow, ideology-based party of the far right. It's hard to imagine anyone being a member but not supporting its key positions -- because such a party is all about those positions, positions that distinguish it from the two main (and mainstream) American parties.

It's one thing, after all, to be a Republican because you're generally conservative and because it just makes sense to support the generally conservative mainstream party. It's quite another to break from the two-party system and willfully embrace a right-wing extremist party. And that's what Sharron Angle did. She didn't commit a gaffe, she joined a party that reflected her craziness. She may not want to talk about her past, now that she's a big-time Republican in a prime-time Senate race, but she should absolutely be held to account for the views of her former party, for what she used to support and for what she may still support even after her expedient, convenient, and career-minded switch to the GOP.

This is the second installment of a new series over at my place. Should you be interested, Part 1 is here.

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