A couple of months ago, Rush Limbaugh reflected on the series of school shootings in the United States, and the Republican host drew a partisan conclusion: “The people that are shooting up schools more than likely vote Democrat.”
There’s no evidence to suggest this is true, but accuracy obviously isn’t a priority. The goal with rhetoric like this is to distract from potential policy solutions while exploiting violence for partisan gain.
And in an unexpected twist, a Republican presidential hopeful yesterday made the implicit case that Limbaugh wasn’t ambitious enough. For Ted Cruz, it’s not just school shooters who are Democrats, but violent criminals in general who are members of the party he holds in contempt. Politico reported yesterday:
Ted Cruz on Monday equated Democrats with violent crime.In an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Monday, the Texas senator said that “the simple and undeniable fact is the overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats.”
In the same interview, the Texas Republican added, “There’s a reason why the Democrats for years have been viewed as soft on crime. The Democrats know convicted felons tend to vote Democrat.”
Media Matters posted the audio clip and transcript of the exchange.
The Cruz campaign hasn’t substantiated the claim, but again, the point of partisan vitriol isn’t to make substantive policy arguments. The presidential hopeful is being provocative for the sake of being provocative.
If that sounds like a certain New York developer leading in the Republican polls, it’s hard not to wonder if Cruz is deliberately trying to pull a page from the Donald Trump playbook. Note, for example, that this latest rhetoric came just a day after his bizarre claims about the Colorado Springs mass shooting.
As for whether felons actually vote Democratic, Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum had a good piece noting that most felons aren’t even registered, though the argument itself serves no real purpose.
[A]nyone can play this game. Just find some demographic group that tends to vote for Party X, and then find some bad thing also associated with that group. In this case, poor people tend to vote for Democrats, and felons tend to be poor. Bingo. Most felons are Democrats.Or this: rich people tend to vote for Republicans, and income-tax cheats tend to be rich. So most income-tax cheats are Republicans.Or this: Middle-aged men tend to vote for Republicans, and embezzlers tend to be middle-aged men. So most embezzlers are Republicans.We could do this all day long, but what’s the point?
Dear Cruz campaign, that need not be a rhetorical question.