In the wake of the latest mass shootings, many Republicans offered “thoughts and prayers.” Some complained about video games. Others offered vague recommendations about mental health. Some tried to say very little.
But as the Washington Post reported, John McCollister, a Republican state legislator in Nebraska, a lifelong member of the GOP, and the son of a former Republican congressman, went in a very different direction: he called out Donald Trump and his party for “enabling white supremacy” in the United States.
“I of course am not suggesting that all Republicans are white supremacists nor am I saying that the average Republican is even racist,” wrote McCollister, who represents an Omaha-area district. “What I am saying though is that the Republican Party is COMPLICIT to obvious racist and immoral activity inside our party.”
McCollister, who was first elected in 2014 and has been described as a moderate Republican, pulled no punches when discussing Trump, who has downplayed the threat of white nationalism in the country.
“We have a Republican president who continually stokes racist fears in his base,” he said in his tweets. “He calls certain countries ‘sh*tholes,’ tells women of color to ‘go back’ to where they came from and lies more than he tells the truth. We have Republican senators and representatives who look the other way and say nothing for fear that it will negatively affect their elections.”
As part of his series of tweets, McCollister added, “When the history books are written, I refuse to be someone who said nothing. The time is now for us Republicans to be honest with what is happening inside our party. We are better than this and I implore my Republican colleagues to stand up and do the right thing.”
This apparently didn’t go over well with the legislator’s colleagues. Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) denounced the comments as “baseless” and said he stood with Trump.
The state GOP, meanwhile, called on McCollister to leave the party altogether.
The Nebraska Republican Party on Monday called for GOP state Sen. John McCollister to re-register as a Democrat after he accused the party of enabling white supremacy in the United States.
“John McCollister has been telegraphing for years that he has little if nothing in common with the Republican voters in his district by consistently advocating for higher taxes, restrictions on American’s Second Amendment rights, and pro-abortion lobby,” Nebraska Republican Party Executive Director Ryan Hamilton said in a statement. “His latest false statement about Republicans should come as no surprise to anyone who is paying attention, and we’re happy he has finally shed all pretense of being a conservative.”
Hamilton added that he’d be “happy to send a change of voter registration form along to his office so he can make the switch officially and start, for once, telling the truth to voters in his district.”
To put it mildly, it’s rare to see a state party urge a sitting elected official to switch to the other party. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a comparable example.
Indeed, consider this in a broader context: we’ve seen all kinds of state lawmakers get caught up in all kinds of controversies, but none of them was asked to switch party registrations. John McCollister, however, criticized Trump and the contemporary GOP’s willingness to “enable white supremacy” in the United States.
And now we know what constitutes a bridge too far.