Gabriela Saucedo Mercer, the favorite to win the Republican nomination in Arizona’s new 3rd congressional district, made the charge against Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) while speaking at a Tucson Tea Party rally. Grijalva, who was born in Arizona, has served his state and country for decades.
After dismissing Grijalva, who chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, as a “communist” — “what is progressive about communism?” Mercer asked — she told the crowd that the congressman is “anti-America.” “His allegiance is not to America,” Mercer declared. “Grijalva was born here, but he hates the American way”:
MERCER: I don’t understand what is wrong with this guy. Excuse me, Representative Grijalva. He’s not only anti-business, he’s anti-America. Wait a minute Gabby, why did you say that? Grijalva voted against the protection of the Pledge of Allegiance, because his allegiance is not to America. Grijalva was born here, but he hates the American way.
Calling a prominent sitting congressman a traitor to his country is about as serious a charge as one can make. In 2008, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) called for an investigation into “anti-American members of Congress,” sparking a firestorm of backlash that almost cost her re-election in a comfortably Republican district.
Last January, then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was shot in the head less than 10 miles from where Mercer made her comments, leading the nation to question whether the level of animosity in our political rhetoric had gotten out of hand. Politics is unquestionably a realm not for the faint-hearted, but questioning opponents’ patriotism, much less calling them out-and-out traitors, has no place in American elections.