One of the most disturbing developments of the 2016 Republican race for president has been Donald Trump's popularity among the most racist elements in US society. The New Yorker, for example, had lengthy piece over the summer detailing the excitement he has generated in the neo-Nazi movement. But here's the thing: Trump isn't the only guy with dangerous supporters.
The media don't talk about it as much, but Ted Cruz - Trump's closest competitor for GOP front-runner status - has also won the backing of some downright terrifying people. Take, for example, anti-choice activist Troy Newman, who the Cruz campaign just tapped to head up "pro-lifers for Cruz."
As the head of the radical male supremacist group Operation Rescue, Newman straddles the very thin line between "activism" and domestic terrorism - and I mean really straddles it. His organization harasses abortion providers and their patients, and some of its members have been involved in plots to blow up women's health clinics. Newman himself has called for the murder of abortion doctors, said AIDS is a warning from God and believes that drought is God's revenge for abortion.
Seems like a great guy, huh? Well, he's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Ted Cruz's supporters.
There's also Dick Black, who the Cruz campaign has appointed as the co-chair of its Virginia campaign. In addition to advocating for the total criminalization of homosexuality, Black is also a rape truther. Back when he was a Virginia state delegate, Black openly questioned the existence of marital rape, something one of his opponents hammered him on in a campaign ad.
So much for family values, huh?
Cynthia Dunbar, Black's fellow co-chair of the Ted Cruz campaign in Virginia, isn't much better. She's compared women having reproductive rights to the Holocaust, fought to make far-right Christianity part of the public school curriculum and believes that elected officials should have to pass a "biblical litmus test." She also says that politicians "don't have the freedom to make any laws if they are contrary to what God has said in his Holy Scripture."
Swap out the words "Holy Scripture" for "Qu'ran" and that speech could have been made by Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the head of ISIS.
Another Ted Cruz supporter, Iowa conservative and head of The Family Leader, Bob Vander Plaats, also says the US should be a Saudi Arabia-style theocracy. Here he is just a couple of years ago talking about why our government should be based on "Godly principles" - i.e. far-right evangelical Christianity.
As unsettling as that kind of talk is, it's nothing compared to what Colorado pastor Kevin Swanson, another big-time Ted Cruz supporter, said about homosexuality this summer: that it was worthy of the death penalty.
Amazingly, it gets even worse than that.
Ted Cruz supporter and Texas preacher Mike Bickle believes that Jews should be forcibly converted to Christianity and says that if they refuse to do so, God will send a "hunter" like "Adolf Hitler" to get them to change their minds.
Now, it'd be one thing if Mike Bickle was just some random guy with bigoted views who just happens to support Ted Cruz, but he's not, or at least not according to the Cruz campaign.
When Bickle announced last week that he was endorsing Ted Cruz for president, the Cruz campaign published a statement on its official website saying in big bold letters, "CRUZ FOR PRESIDENT ANNOUNCES ENDORSEMENT OF MIKE BICKLE."
There's an old saying that says you are the company you keep, and if Ted Cruz is the company he keeps, that's downright terrifying.
He's just not winning the support of people like Mike Bickle and Dick Black; he's celebrating their support, and in some cases, hiring them to work for his campaign.
Of course, there's always the case that this is just one big cynical ploy to win the Evangelical vote, but even if it is, it says a lot about Ted Cruz as a person and as a leader that he'd willingly associate himself with people who are pretty much the US version of ISIS.
This is one of the biggest stories of the 2016 race for president, but the really disturbing thing is that the media almost completely ignore it.
Turn on CNN or any of the other major networks and you're more likely to hear about poll numbers than the fact that the potential Republican nominee for president has been endorsed by a guy who thinks Hitler was sent by God. It's almost like the media think it's acceptable that someone running for president likes to pal around with Christian extremists and theocrats.
Well, it’s not acceptable; it's a direct threat to our democracy, which is why it's time for the media to start taking Cruz and his extremist endorsements seriously. Based on everything we've seen up to this point, we have every reason to believe that a Ted Cruz presidency could mean the start of a Saudi Arabia-style theocracy right here in the US. The media should function as the fourth estate and wake the American people up to this before it's too late.