Three Republicans who may run for governor attended a June 15 event in Boone featuring Ed Failor, leader of Iowans for Tax Relief. During a typical Republican speech about how Democrats are wrecking the country, Failor went beyond boilerplate rhetoric and likened Democratic economic policies to events in Nazi Germany in 1933.
Iowa Democratic Party leaders want to know whether State Representative Chris Rants, State Senator Jerry Behn, and Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey agree with Failor's analogy. After the jump I've posted an action alert asking Iowa Democrats to contact Behn, Rants and Northey to ask them if they agree with Failor's remarks, and if not, why they didn't speak up at the time.
The Boone News Republican followed up on the story today and posted a longer excerpt from Failor's speech. I've posted that after the jump as well, though from where I'm sitting the larger context doesn't make him look any less unhinged.
I doubt any Republican will distance himself from Failor. Iowans for Tax Relief and its members could be helpful during next year's gubernatorial primary. Speaking to the Boone Times Republican, Behn dismissed the incident as much ado about nothing. Failor's in no mood to apologize either:
"I was very careful to say that I like Pat Murphy, he is a good guy," Failor said.
When you have a political disagreement with a "good guy" you like, do you say he is "behaving as a jack-booted Nazi"? Neither do I.
Failor added that he completely stands by his statement. He said that previous examples of political parties that succeed in taking too much power never end up being successful, or good for a country's well-being.
"When you try to find an example of one party, normally by election and fairly, taking over means of production, it never works out well," Failor said. "I stand by that, if you are a student of history you will know there is no example of that where it didn't go terribly wrong eventually. And, in many cases, it started with the best of intentions."
Can't say that I'm too impressed by Failor as a "student of history."
Only three states (Iowa, Louisiana and Alabama) allow citizens to deduct their federal tax payments on their state income tax returns. Yet to Failor, Democratic efforts to make our tax code more like laws in 47 other states is tantamount to "taking over means of production." Ejecting people who were disrupting a public hearing from the legislative chamber is comparable to how Nazis treated their political opponents.
I don't pretend to understand the psychological need to elevate a dispute over tax policy into some heroic struggle against dictatorship. I doubt dire warnings about fascism (or Marxism, depending on your paranoid mood) are going to scare Iowans back into electing Republicans.
Share any relevant thoughts in this thread.
From an Iowa Democratic Party e-mail with the subject line, "Speak out against Republican hate speech":
Dear Fellow Democrat,
Last Monday Republican leaders and gubernatorial hopefuls gathered at an event in Boone County to listen to Ed Failor, head of Iowans for Tax Relief, speak. In his speech he likened efforts by Democrats to save our economy to the rise of the Nazi Party.
Ridiculously, Mr. Failor claims that he was not comparing Democrats to Nazis, but any fair person can see otherwise:
'Failor, while making sure to clarify that he was not referring to the democrats as Nazis, did draw the comparison between the two. He said that the Nazi party, which started as just another political party in Germany, began their massive rise to power by taking control of private business and means of production - which is exactly what Failor said the Democrats are attempting to do.' - Boone News Republican 6/18/09
Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Michael Kiernan had this to say in response: "Those thoughts are hateful -- to veterans of the Second World War who fought on D-Day, to people of the Jewish faith, and in fact to any decent person. I am asking the newest candidate for Governor, Chris Rants, and all the prospective Republican candidates' two questions: First, do you agree with Ed Failor's hateful words? And second, if not, why didn't you speak up?"
It is imperative that we as Democrats speak out against these hateful comments. Unfortunately this is not the first time Mr. Failor has compared Democrats to Nazis. Today I ask each of you to call or email all the prospective candidates for governor in attendance at last week's event and ask them if they agree with Mr. Failor's comments. If not, why have they not spoken out publicly?
You will find their contact information below:
Representative Christopher Rants
Representative Jerry Behn
Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey
From the Boone Times Republican on June 23:
"The Democrats tried to get the elimination of federal deductibility going in the House this year, and a public hearing was held in the House. Maybe some of you were there. We ginned up our members and had 650 people fill the House chamber. And what we were simply doing, when speakers spoke, at the very beginning, I will be honest, was a little booing and hissing, but it stopped when they were called on it. It's a public hearing - that means they are suppose to hear what the public thinks. Only 45 of them could speak - normal Iowa folks sitting in the gallery, found it very reasonable, they applauded after speakers. But apparently this 'insane' behavior earned the wrath of the Speaker of the House Pat Murphy, and he came out and had the State Troopers clear the gallery of the citizenry, that were there to be heard. Amazing isn't it. The audacity by itself is another discussion to have. But, that's what he did. And an interesting comment was made, they let the speakers continue with an empty gallery, which is interesting as well, but one speaker said it was the first time they had ever seen the tenant throw out the landlord.
"And that's what occurred. Now, I may have a bit of, I don't know if temper is the right word, Christopher (Rants) might disagree, I don't know. But, I am a passionate person, let's put it that way. So as this was occurring and literally the troopers were moving these people, who were applauding politely, from the chamber. I went over to press row, and found it reasonable to describe to the press that the manner in which the Speaker of the House had just behaved, that he was behaving as a jack-booted Nazi."
At this point, many of those in attendance at the event began to laugh. Failor continued:
"Sure, you're all going to laugh now, but I challenge you to never laugh again when you hear that - and I will tell you why. In 1933, when the Nazi party rose to power in Germany, they were just another political party that seized all control of government. They began first by seizing the property, the methods of production and the factories, and they put them into government use. GM? I don't know. I really looked like a prophet in April, but that's what happened in 1933, and people didn't understand. That's what's happened here now. I suggest that you don't find that a laughable thing next time. Now, am I suggesting that Barack Obama or Pat Murphy or any democrats have any goal to extinguish a race of people? No - not at all. Pat Murphy is actually a relatively nice guy. But do I think the same financial things that could destroy this republic are occurring? Absolutely," Failor said.