Tennessee Republicans just can't bring themselves to say neo-Nazis are bad.
The Republican-controlled Tennessee legislature has, for the second time in a month, rejected a resolution condemning neo-Nazi groups.
Democratic state Rep. John Ray Clemmons, who introduced the resolution, did not receive a second on his motion to proceed on his committee.
Republicans on the committee who blocked it from proceeding “later described the resolution as a trap designed to embarrass them,” NPR reported.
“I didn’t think there was anything controversial about this resolution,” he said last month when Republicans refused to move it forward.
House Majority Leader Glen Casada said that if Clemmons introduced his resolution again, Republicans would “definitely” support it this time.
“Glen Casada is full of crap,” Clemmons told Nashville Public Radio. “Feel free to quote me.”
On Monday, Republican Rep. Ryan Williams asked his fellow Republicans to withdraw a similar resolution. The second bill was nearly identical to the first, but omitted language urging law enforcement to go after white supremacist groups as “domestic terrorist organizations.”
Republicans hold 28 of the 33 Senate seats in the Senate and 74 of the 99 seats in the House.
Clemmons had filed his version of the resolution a few days after the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The group Forward Majority slammed the legislature’s failure to demonstrate moral leadership.
“The Republican Party’s growing affinity for neo-Nazism is truly shocking,” said the group’s communications director, Ben Wexler-Waite, in a statement to Shareblue Media. “And given Republicans control the legislature in Tennessee, national GOP groups like the RNC and the RSLC have a moral obligation to speak out immediately.”
He added, “The continued silence of national Republicans tells you everything you need to know about the Republican Party in the year 2018.”
Condemning Nazis seems like it should be easy to do. But Republicans at the state level seem to be marching in lockstep with Trump, the national leader of the party.
When he refuses to directly repudiate or condemn Nazis, despite their support of ethnic cleansing and mass murder, that message trickles down to the state level.
The Republican embrace results in legislative impotence, where even a lopsided body cannot find a way to act against obvious hate.
When Tennessee Republicans give neo-Nazis a pass, they have learned it by watching Trump.