Montana Republican Ryan Zinke campaigned at a small town event in Big Fork Montana on Monday. Though the event only drew about thirty people, Zinke’s comments should give pause to the state of Montana as they contemplate who to elect to Congress in 2014. Zinke referred to Hillary Clinton as the anti-Christ and described her as the “real enemy”. The ex-Navy SEAL also engaged in some thinly veiled insurrectionist rhetoric by stating:
Who trusts the U.S. government? No one in this room. I’ve served in 25 nations. I’ve seen where people don’t trust their government. We’re there. In the military, the last option is to send in the SEALs.
While these views should be relegated to the political fringe, Zinke leads the six Montana GOP House candidates in fundraising. His rhetoric seems to unite the “End of Times” evangelical religious right with the conspiracy oriented gun enthusiasts into a coherent narrative that regards Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and other Democrats as an enemy to be eliminated.
As if to emphasize his latent desire for “second amendment solutions”, Zinke was joined by author Scott McEwen, who wrote the book American Sniper. After completing his speech to about thirty GOP partisans, Zinke handed out 50-calibre bullets to each of the four men who sponsored the event.
In 2012, Zinke launched the Special Operations For America Political Action Committee, with the goal of defeating Barack Obama in the 2012 election. His current rhetoric however seems to be drifting deeper into a more apocalyptic world view where the Democrats are demonic figures. In this dangerous fantasy land armed insurrection may eventually become necessary as a last resort to save the Republic.
While it would be easy to dismiss such far-fetched paranoia, Zinke’s successful fundraising suggests that his conspiratorial world view is shared by many Republican primary voters. The current Tea Party-flavored Congress is already populated with a number of right-wing extremists. Adding Ryan Zinke to Congress would only further drive a wedge between reasonable lawmakers and the extremists who seek to destabilize the country through violent rhetoric and malicious hyperbole.