Joni Ernst, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Iowa, said during an NRA event in 2012 that she would use a gun to defend herself from the government. "I have a beautiful little Smith & Wesson, 9 millimeter, and it goes with me virtually everywhere," Ernst said at the NRA and Iowa Firearms Coalition Second Amendment Rally in Searsboro, Iowa. "But I do believe in the right to carry, and I believe in the right to defend myself and my family -- whether it's from an intruder, or whether it's from the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important."
In the 2010 midterms, Republican Senate hopeful Sharron Angle used a chilling phrase as part of her political vision: "Second Amendment remedies." In context, Angle argued that if U.S. policymakers pursued an agenda the far-right disapproved of, Americans may have to turn to armed violence against their own country.
The Republican candidate lost her Senate bid, and most of this talk receded to the fringes of right-wing politics.
It did not, however, disappear entirely from the Republicans' rhetorical quiver. Sam Levine had this report overnight.
In the United States, if we believe our rights are being violated by the state, we turn to the courts. In Joni Ernst's world, if we believe our rights are being violated by the state, we turn to guns.
This comes on the heels of a report showing Ernst expressing support for arresting federal officials who try to implement federal laws the far-right doesn't like. Noting the two radical positions, Jamison Foser joked, "First Joni Ernst wants to arrest government employees, now she wants to shoot them?"
I realize that polls show Ernst actually leading her race, and odds are, Iowans seem prepared to put her in the Senate for the next six years. It remains a very close contest, but it's fair to say at this point that Ernst is the favorite to prevail.
With each passing day, however, we're offered new evidence that she will represent the bonkers wing of the Republican Party in the institution once described as the world's most deliberative body.
As we've discussed before, Ernst has endorsed banning abortions and many forms of birth control; nullifying federal laws she doesn't like, privatizing Social Security; and impeaching President Obama. She’s argued that Saddam Hussein really did have weapons of mass destruction and people on Medicaid “have no personal responsibility for their health.” She’s dismissed the very existence of a federal minimum wage as “ridiculous” and credits the Koch brothers for the strength of her candidacy. She’s endorsed enough conspiracy theories to qualify her as the head of a Glenn Beck fan club.
If Ernst is elected, she will immediately become one of the most radical members of the U.S. Senate in recent history.
Making matters slightly worse, the right-wing Iowan doesn't seem to know very much about public policy or current events.
I continue to believe that much of the political world is impressed with Ernst’s personality, to the point that her over-the-top ideology, ridiculous conspiracy theories, policy ignorance, and twisted worldview aren’t supposed to matter too much. But by any mature standard, the emerging picture of Ernst reveals the most extreme Senate candidate of 2014.