A lot of folks might be scratching their heads wondering: “How do we get to the point where a Holocaust-denier and admitted Neo-Nazi is running for Congress?”
I first found out about the candidacy of Arthur J. Jones, a longtime Chicago-area Holocaust denier running in the Republican primary for the 3rd Congressional District, from a friend’s Facebook post.
The name was familiar. Jones has popped up before and he’s run for office before and the media’s pointed out before that that he’s a Neo-Nazi. He makes no bones about his abhorrent views, views that just about everyone condemns. He’s also running unopposed this time, so there’s no Republican to challenge him in the primary.
But the question remains. How do we get to this point in American politics, where a Neo-Nazi is running unopposed for the GOP nomination to a Congressional seat?
Some will say this is what we get in the age of Donald Trump. Indeed, Jones will tell you he supports a lot of what Trump claims to support. But as I said, Jones has been around before. He’s an opportunist who looks for any opening he can find to run for office, create havoc and spread his message.
Rather it is our party politics, which have been operating this way for decades, responsible for leading us to this point.
Jones is what we get thanks to political gerrymandering, where one political party draws legislative districts favorably to its candidates and detrimental to the opposing party. Here in Illinois, Democrats have been the master mapmakers. And they have consistently drawn legislative maps to keep Democrats safely in power.
One of those districts is the 3rd Congressional District, which includes Western Springs, La Grange and parts of the Southwest Side of Chicago. It’s an example of everything that is wrong with gerrymandering.
Here’s what gerrymandering leads to:
First, it leads to one-party rule. The 3rd District has been in the hands of the Democratic Party literally for generations. Democrats win so often in this district, Republicans don’t even bother to put up candidates any more.
Take a look at the most recent election in the 3rd District, in 2016. In that election, incumbent Democrat Rep. Dan Lipinski won with 100 percent of the vote. No Republican candidate was slated against him. A woman named Diane Harris got a few write-in votes.
So when no Republican in their right mind would run in this race, you get someone like Arthur Jones.
Here’s what he told a Chicago Tribune reporter about whether African-Americans and Latinos should have the right to vote: “I don’t believe in equality — period.”
But one-party rule isn’t the only thing we get with gerrymandering. Sometimes you also get a bonus and keep it all in the family.
Dan Lipinski, the current 3rd District representative, has held the office since 2004. Before that, he was a college professor. How did he get to become a member of Congress?
His dad, Bill Lipinski, retired and greased the skids for him. Bill Lipinski was first elected to Congress in 1982, in what was then called the 5th District. In 1992, he was redistricted into the 3rd District, and had to run against Marty Russo and won.
That means a Lipinski has represented the people in that area for more 35 years.
No wonder the Republicans have abandoned the race and this district. Leave it for the odd assortment of nuts, hangers-on, losers and oddballs. It’s enough to make you think this is the way the politicians want it.
Randy Blaser is a freelance columnist.