While we often think of Republican and Democratic party members at a great divide, in several states we have built a defacto three party system: Republican — “moderate Republican” — and Democratic.(**) Stephanie Clayton, R-Overland Park, has always been a member of the middle group. That ground, however, has become far more complicated with an alt-right wing that is definitely feeling their own and uninterested in holding their tongue.
The Kansas man who recommended Rep. Stephanie Clayton “swing from a tree” for introducing a bill to prohibit carrying concealed handguns on college and university campuses serves as a lieutenant colonel in the state’s Civil Air Patrol.
Jonathan Holder, commander of a squadron based at a Kansas National Guard Armory in Emporia, said he was offended that the Overland Park Republican proposed legislation that would undermine his constitutional rights. Kansas law requires the state’s higher education institutions to allow concealed carry on campus starting July 1, but Clayton’s bill would make the existing ban on concealed guns permanent.
Clayton’s bill was designed to overturn prior legislation that allowed for guns on college campus has sparked a serious backlash. Representative John Whitmer offered his opinion to constituents in the state house: “This thing is beyond dead on arrival. Beyond dead.”
The threat to “hang from a tree” however, went a bit too far for Clayton, who reported the item to the Overland Park Police.
The officer in question, however, remains unapologetic.
Holder declined Monday to be interviewed at length about his perspective on Clayton’s attempt to amend the concealed carry law. In a Facebook post, however, Holder was unapologetic about his choice of words.
“I stand by what I said and frankly don’t care who doesn’t like it,” Holder said. “So, go ahead and report me, deport me, unfriend me, block me or demand that the Grand Poobah of the Exalted Order of the Mysterious Rite of the Care Bears remove me from my position as Exalted Honcho of Lodge No. BR-549.”
Holder said sharing his personal “opinion with spleen” could only be viewed as a threat by “intolerant social justice warriors who believe free speech only applies to their way of thinking.”
Holder was not the only conservative to take swipes at Rep. Clayton online:
Moderate Republicans, who have long argued they can change the party from the inside, are now finding that the party they hope to change will forever be linked in history books with Trump, Donald J, 45th President. And as a result, his followers feel more empowered to force party adherence to their standard bearer and less interest than ever in accepting a moderate message.
Shortly after this was published, the officer in question resigned.
"Jonathan Holder, commander of a Civil Air Patrol squadron in Emporia, Kansas, resigned from his command following recent public comments he made about a state legislator," read a statement issued by the Civil Air Patrol. "Holder has since been suspended from his Civil Air Patrol membership, pending further investigation, as is standard procedure in such situations. CAP does not condone such behavior from its members, especially one in a leadership position."
(**) — I am of course aware of the broader political spectrum. This comment was made about the layout of elected officials in some states, which have divided into three factions, not a statement about the party layout nationally or in every state, to clarify remarks sent to me.
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