I heard my favorite Mo Brooks story in 2010, when he rode to Congress on the tea party wave. It came from residents of Madison County, where he was a commissioner. The story goes that Brooks opposed a three dollar per month rate increase for garbage collection, single-handedly filibustering the issue until he whittled it down to just fifty cents. This was penny-wise, pound-foolish stuff, because garbage collection was undergoing an efficiency upgrade in North Alabama as well as across the nation: our classic aluminum cans were being replaced with plastic bins and trucks built to hook them. The tea party crowd didn’t care about that; they just saw their $30 a year savings, thought it the greatest act of conservative governance in a generation, and declared him a genius.
But perhaps a more important story for understanding Mo Brooks is that when he was an unknown running for Lieutenant Governor in 2006, he attended a rally with Roy Moore (of Ten Commandments fame) to oppose an urban renewal plan for Tuscaloosa. He was particularly incensed by the use of an eminent domain law aimed at removing urban blight, which he saw as overbroad:
“The definition of blight is so large, it is a loophole that swallows the law,” Brooks said.
“This is a dog and pony show, where [government] acts like they’re doing the right thing, but they’re doing the wrong thing,” he said. “Our forefathers fought a war, and that war was over property rights.”
To which war was Brooks referring? Surely not the American Revolution, except insofar as “property rights” is a euphemism for slavery that carried on to another war fought by Southern forefathers. Yes, Mo Brooks’s vision of the founders would probably be familiar to Alexander Stephens in 1861, when he was sworn in as the vice president of the Confederacy. Yes, that wild light you see in Mo’s eyes is the reflection of a deeply-held, but rarely-expressed belief among white Southerners that the wrong side won the Civil War. It is the reflection of the fires burning in his very enthusiastic white constituents’ eyes whenever he discusses immigration issues at town halls in John Bircher territory.
It was therefore no surprise to anyone living in Alabama’s 5th Congressional district when Brooks sparked a multiday Twitter trend this past weekend by proclaiming that the Democratic Party is waging a “war on whites” over immigration reform. That the dependably conservative Laura Ingraham called this statement “a little out there” underlines the extremity of his position on the issue: Brooks wants to deport the DREAMers and chase all the undocumented out of the country, which is basically ethnic cleansing disguised as an immigration policy.
And the reason for his urgency? Unless they’re sent away immediately, the immigrants will all become citizens and vote for Democrats.
What’s really shocking about this is that it took so long for anyone to notice Mo Brooks. When he said he would “do anything short of shooting” the undocumented, it should have been a clue. When I published video of him ranting about illegals supposedly killing random Americans, it should have woken people up. But no: it took appearances on All In with Chris Hayes and Laura Ingraham’s show for everyone to figure out that what I’ve been saying for four years now is in fact true.
The essential thing to know about Mo Brooks isn’t what he believes about immigration, but how unbelievably, frighteningly popular his extremism is among people who think that Obama was born in Kenya and demand that Brooks personally impeach him. Once you know what happened to his predecessor, who failed to appease the town hall zombies, then you can understand why Brooks repeats this applause line about deportations wherever he goes: it stirs their feelings in his favor almost as much as the garbage fee story.
Adding: I have seen some reports that Brooks is running unopposed this year, but that’s not true.