Bizarre things are happening in the U.S. Senate race in Arizona. Jeff Flake is retiring and three Republicans are running in a primary to win his seat, including convicted criminal (and recipient of a presidential pardon) Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Vice President Mike Pence was in Tempe, Arizona this week to give a speech at a rally for the pro-Trump outside group America First Policies. Pence surprised everybody by mentioning Arpaio, formerly the sheriff of Maricopa County, and praising him profusely.
After Trump announced his pardon of Arpaio, an official at the American Civil Liberties Union called it “a presidential endorsement of racism.”
A recent Arizona senate poll found Arpaio running second in a three-person race with a 67 percent favorable rating among Republican primary voters. If Pence’s comments help Arpaio win the GOP primary it will be a disaster for Republicans because he has no chance of winning the general election in Arizona, and the Democrats would pick up a Senate seat.
In short, Arpaio represents the worst of America and the worst of the Republican Party. According to the Washington Post:
“Arpaio’s brutality in abusing the rule of law is widely known: The sheriff himself often boasted that prisoners in his draconian “Tent City” jail would be exposed to temperatures of up to 142 degrees. He referred to his compound as “a concentration camp. Judges ruled that his treatment of prisoners was abusive, inhumane or unconstitutional, or all of the above. Twice, a federal judge ruled that the lack of medical care in Tent City was so awful that it was an unconstitutional violation of prisoners’ basic rights. One-hundred fifty-seven deaths of prisoners occurred on his watch, some of them allegedly attributable to negligence, according to investigations by the Phoenix New Times.”
“Vice President Pence: Joe Arpaio is the exact opposite of a “champion” of the rule of law, and you’re embarrassing yourself and your office in claiming otherwise. He ignored judicial orders, abused the constitutional rights of prisoners and used his law enforcement powers as a racialized weapon that made a mockery of the notion that justice is blind.”
After Pence’s comments became public he was roasted on social media, and for good reason. The fact that he and Donald Trump are supporting a convicted criminal with a history of racism and prisoner abuse tells us all we need to know about their values. If Trump had his way he would be a dictator, and Joe Arpaio is his role model. Neither one of them believe in the “rule of law” unless the law gives them carte blanche to implement their racist and discriminatory practices.
By praising Joe Arpaio Vice President Pence has shown once again that he and Donald Trump are not worthy of the offices they hold, and they do not represent the values of America.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.