On Jan. 31, Montana State Rep. Rodney Garcia sparked outrage by claiming at a public forum that the United States Constitution calls for all socialists to be jailed or shot. Whether Garcia knew this was a lie or not, it is un-American to silence political opponents, especially forcibly. NTC activists called on him to resign.
Ultimately, Garcia did not resign, but the public let their opinions on the issue be known another way when he lost his primary election following his comments.
The Constitution actually says the exact opposite of Garcia’s claim and goes to great lengths to enshrine the right to free speech and to ensure that our government does not have the authority to silence or punish political rivals.
When given a chance to clarify his statements, Garcia doubled down, telling the Billings Gazette that “[socialists] are enemies of the free state. What do we do with our enemies in war? In Vietnam, (Afghanistan), all those. What did we do? … according to the Constitution, I’m telling you.”
On Feb 3, the leadership of the Montana Republican party called on him to resign, addressing him directly by saying that “your actions have irreparably undermined the body in which you serve and irrevocably broken the trust of those you were elected to represent.” They are absolutely right.
Garcia has the right to express disagreement with socialism, but it is never okay for an elected official to call for government violence against fellow citizens because of their political views. This is an insidious form of intolerance that has historically led to brutal atrocities time and time again.