Not many eyes were on Dan Lipinski during Election Day on Nov. 6. A seven-term congressman from Chicago, Lipinski is the kind of Democrat that the national party tries to ignore. He’s pro-life, anti–marriage equality and the only Illinois Democrat in Congress who voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Politico, “Anti-abortion Democrat snubbed by party for reelection,” 02.25.2018). Yet he won a decisive victory, garnering over 75 percent of the vote. In most contexts, this would have been an easy mandate were it not for one crucial fact: His opponent, Republican nominee Arthur Jones, is a Nazi (Chicago Tribune, “Holocaust-denier Arthur Jones loses in Illinois 3rd District, but still gets more than 25 percent of the vote,” 11.07.2018).
The terms “Nazi” or “fascist” are common epithets for political opponents, especially on the right. Donald Trump, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton—all of these public figures have been called Nazis in recent years, although none of them are. When I say that Art Jones is a Nazi, I am not saying that he is very far-right—which he is—or that he opposes immigration—which he does. What I am saying is that Art Jones is literally a neo-Nazi.
Jones is a former member of the American Nazi Party. In 1976, he ran for Mayor of Milwaukee as a member of the National Socialist White People’s Party. Even Tim Schneider, the chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, described Jones as a Nazi. He told the Chicago Tribune, “Arthur Jones is not a real Republican—he is a Nazi whose disgusting, bigoted views have no place in our nation’s discourse” (The New York Times, “Denounced by His Party as a Nazi, Arthur Jones Wins Illinois G.O.P. Congressional Primary,” 03.20.2018).
Jones explicitly ran on a platform of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. His website proudly reads, “This idea that six million Jews were killed by the National Socialist government of Germany, in World War II, is the biggest, blackest, lie in history,” and “Jewish International Communism and Jewish international Zionism are directly responsible for the murder of at least 300 million people and these bloodthirsty criminal vampires may yet ignite a third world war, if we don’t stop them” (Art Jones for Congressman, “Holocaust?”). His website refers to the Confederate flag as the “flag of White counter revolution,” calls the LGBTQ+ pride flag “an attack on traditional Christian morality and religious freedom” and says Israel is conspiring to put the country through endless wars in the Middle East for Israel’s benefit (Art Jones for Congressman, “Flags of Conflicting Ideas”).
However, on Election Day, more than one in every four residents of Illinois’ third Congressional District voted for Jones, which caused him to win several suburban precincts and perform strongly in others (Chicago Sun-Times, “Holocaust denier gets nearly 40 percent of vote in 2 Mount Greenwood precincts,” 11.07.2018). To be fair, winning only a quarter of the total votes would usually be considered a resounding failure, but considering Jones’ reputation, it’s alarming that he would even be as popular as he was.
I am not going to claim that the reason he did so well is because 26 percent of the district are Nazis. That’s probably not true. Chicago Alderman Matt O’Shea argued that it was mere ignorance that bolstered Jones’ campaign, stating “As much as I’d like to think I have an electorate that’s engaged, I think there are some folks who strictly vote Republican, they don’t research candidates.” Lipinski himself agreed, saying, “There’s no question that some people everywhere support this type of hate, but the insinuation that people in my district, especially on the Southwest Side in the area where I grew up, would support a Nazi, I find that insulting.” A few voters even told the Chicago Sun-Times that they voted for Jones purely by accident (Chicago Sun-Times).
Art Jones disagrees. “After all the exposure of me being labeled the ‘Holocaust denier’ in the media, it’s impossible for me to believe,” he stated. Daniel Rother, a resident of the area, agrees with Jones’ conclusion. He told the Sun-Times, “There’s a lot of prejudice in Mount Greenwood. Residents probably don’t support that Jones is a Nazi, but they support that he’d keep the neighborhood white. That’s just the mindset” (Chicago Sun-Times).
We now know the floor. No matter how bad the candidate is, if they are a Republican, they can expect at least 25 percent of the vote. Whether it’s because of ignorance or support, this is not a good look for the Republican Party. I have very little to add since the facts speak for themselves. Conservatism in America has become fanatical, and the depths of blind party loyalty, of ideology over country, are about to hit rock bottom. To disgruntled conservatives around the country and those liberals and progressives who want an honest and decent opposing political force, I only have one message: It’s about to get a lot worse.