He’s had more than three strikes, and it’s time for Agema to go

Much to the pleasure of a number of tea party spokespersons who like to seek out and destroy “Republicans In Name Only” (i.e. RINOs), I recently re-watched Rod Lurie’s film “The Contender.” The film focuses on a fictional United States president (played by Jeff Bridges) and the events surrounding his appointment of a new vice president (Joan Allen) who is consistently attacked by a congressman (Gary Oldman).

Tea partiers will say this proves that I’ve been corrupted by the Hollywood elites. I will admit that the film goes a bit over the top to show that partisanship run amuck is destroying American politics to the detriment of civility and honorable public service. Nevertheless, there is a message that is still timely for those who run the Michigan Republican Party.

That is, simply: Enough is enough. It is time for all elected officials, especially Gov. Rick Snyder, to call for the resignation of Dave Agema, Michigan’s Republican National Committeeman.

The long and short of the “The Contender” plot is this: in order to defeat the president’s selection of a woman to be vice president, a congressman starts to say anything, spread any rumor, to defeat the nomination. In the end, we are reminded that the words of hate some spew are getting to “a level where it’s getting hard to separate the demagogue from the truly inspired.”

For the last two years, Agema has authored, co-authored, or re-posted on his social-media accounts disparaging posts about homosexuals, Muslims, RINOs and liberals. About a year and a half ago, he promoted Frank Joseph’s viewpoint that gays and lesbians are “filthy” and “because homosexuals can’t reproduce naturally, they resort to recruiting children.” Shortly after that, he posted the question, “Have you ever seen a Muslim do anything that contributes positively to the American way of life?”

This caused numerous Republican elected officials and leaders, ranging from Rep. Fred Upton to Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, as well as RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, MiGOP Chair Bobby Schostak, to condemn Agema. I was proud to be one of the first county GOP chairs to call for his resignation and removal.

The record shows that Agema considered the calls for his resignation to be a joke and promised to adopt a tone of more civility and understanding. The same record shows that if anything, he’s only increased the venom – this time to include African-Americans.

On New Year’s Eve, he once again posted an article which he called “enlightening,” this time from the American Renaissance (a well-known white supremacist organization). What caught my eye was this paragraph:

“...my experience has also taught me that blacks are different by almost any measure to all other people. They cannot reason well. They cannot communicate well. They cannot control their impulses as well. They are a threat to all who cross their paths, black and non-black alike.”

Enlightening, indeed. I figured, based on his past actions, that Agema was bigoted against homosexuals and Muslims. Now I know he’s bigoted against me, my family, and probably anyone who doesn’t think exactly like he does or shares his skin color.

Throughout Agema’s dramafest, Gov. Snyder has tried to maintain the highest ground possible. While never calling for Agema’s resignation, the governor did take time out of his 2014 State of the State address to rebuke the committeeman. When asked about the most recent comments, Snyder said, “…if you’re in public service or in the public eye, hopefully you can act with a degree of civility and treat people right. I don’t consider those comments to be in line with that.”

As governor, Snyder is the figurative head of the MRP. He, in a way, can be the ultimate umpire when it comes to what direction the party takes going forward. I’m a volunteer umpire during the summer and I think the governor should remember that in baseball, from Little League all the way up to the Majors, it’s three strikes and you’re out.

Some will say that there’s nothing in the MRP bylaws that address this situation, that there’s no way to remove Agema from his post either at the next meeting of the RNC or the next MRP state convention. This week, the party has turned to the national committee to remove him at its winter meeting in San Diego, and on Tuesday voted to censure him.

But in the event Agema survives, Snyder should take a more aggressive stance regarding the continued despicable comments that Agema publicly shares. There are times when the gubernatorial bully pulpit is useful to advance public policy. This is a time where it can be used to advance a moral lesson in our state.

This is one of those times. Action is needed now before the MRP is lost in the shrinking gap between demagoguery and inspiration.

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

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Sun, 01/18/2015 - 2:51am
I am a conservative, white male and I've long found Mr. Agema to be an embarrassment to the human race. His "social" views (on race, religion, sexuality, etc) represent only himself. Unfortunately, our society rarely differentiates between political and social views, thus those with differing political views must relish having such a fool served up to them on a platter. This renders Mr. Agema someone that we virtually all find repulsive yet only his own party wishes for him to go away. Addition by subtraction. Yet he's still here. Sigh.
Sun, 01/18/2015 - 7:46am
For two years Agema said terrible things. Everyone said he is hurting the Republican Party. Yet Republicans took even more power in the last election. Perhaps he helped bigoted people feel secure in a place to vote -- the Republican Party. If he left, bigots may have been less interested.
Sun, 01/18/2015 - 8:07am
Now that he's become a national embarrassment, other Republicans are calling for Agema to go. Where were they when he was saying all this stuff during the earlier part of his career? He didn't become such a bigot in just the past two years...
Sun, 01/18/2015 - 8:16am
Ron - yes, you have it right. Agema was doing the old GOP silent dog whistle to the lowest levels of our society and they turned out to vote. Now that his usefulness is at an end the GOP wants to get rid of him so it can switch to a kinder, gentler looking and sounding party. Nothing really changes. What Agema says is what Republicans think but only when there are other Republicans and no press around. That's what really upsets the party right now - he's not going along with the 'new look' and talking about what the GOP says behind closed doors. And, of course, he hasn't been pushed out as GOP Chair - the voice of the party in Michigan - has he? They probably won't do that; this is just more of the PR campaign. They knew who and how he was when they voted him in!
Sun, 01/18/2015 - 12:52pm
"What Agema says is what Republicans think": That's a pretty broad brush you're wielding, Rick. Anything to support this statement, which on the surface makes you appear as far from reality as Agema? Think about the people you personally know. Is your statement true? I know countless Republicans and only one is even in the same ballpark as far as thinking similarly to Agema.
Sun, 01/18/2015 - 3:43pm
Did you even read the article? The writer is a party leader and he cites numerous leaders of the party that want him to step down. Since the party has no mechanism to remove him, they have to keep asking him to step down, which he refuses to do.
Sun, 01/18/2015 - 11:03am
Anyone with working brains recognizes that Agema, in his statements, is in effect, stating that two plus two equals five. Obviously he is wrong. But what is worrisome is that he just as obviously believes he is right. And what does that say about the voters who elected him and who support him and his statements? It is frightening to be in the midst of such stupidity. We should pray for Agema; it's evident that he needs God's help in realizing that he is, if not ill, at very least blind, deaf, and dumb.
Sun, 01/18/2015 - 12:40pm
Bravo Dave! I'm past apologizing or offering explanation for Agema's seemingly lack of perspective ( I'm being kind because it's Sunday). If your job is to lead and there's no one behind you, then you're not leading. Agema is not leading.
Sun, 01/18/2015 - 2:49pm
If only his bigotry would stay in the closet.
Sun, 01/18/2015 - 5:04pm
Jimmy, Agema definitely has followers. Even some Republican politicians have supported him in his hateful comments. Read the comments on Mlive stories about him. He has followers. He's just not leading anyone into anything that most of us call good.
Sun, 01/18/2015 - 8:37pm
How is what Agema professes any different than newly elected State Rep. Gary Glenn? The voters of Midland and those that supported Glenn like the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, now Congressman John Moolenar, and new State Senator Jim Stamas all should be ashamed of themselves.
Mon, 01/19/2015 - 7:33am
I think he just enjoys stirring things up and likes the attention. He isn't going to be voted out of Congress for what he says so he has basically nothing to lose, if he was removed from a party post it most likely would not silence him either.
Michael Kiella
Mon, 01/19/2015 - 4:21pm
I trust that we agree Mr. Agema is free to spew the vile contents of his belief system in the privacy of his own home, or in the front pew of his church; perhaps even in the living room of his friends' home when he is invited there. However, his agenda is more frightening because of this: it represents constituents that are like-minded....that share his racist and xenophobic point of view. We know these constituents live here in our neighborhoods, maybe right next door. After all, it was a near landslide-majority of votes that elected Dave Agema to do the bidding. We can find Dave Agema in his government office, at luncheons on the Hill, or on our television screens. We are able to watch him, evaluate him, keep tabs on his missteps. We get to observe his very public diatribe. It is viral and visible. Yet, keeping tabs on Dave Agema provides neither a warning, nor scant comfort as a way to measure the proper distance one should keep from his followers...those in the District that elected him, and asked him to represent them in the grass-roots process of deciding the American agenda. Those followers provided 70-something percent of the vote to elect Dave Agema! The affirmations conveyed one-vote-at-a-time were not an accident, the fluke of some counting system gone awry. It was a referendum on community and community values. These people are neighbors, shoppers in the same stores, co-workers, and parents planting the seeds of morality in the minds of their children. They probably sit with Dave Agema in the front pew of his church. Maybe Dave would be OK if he just didn't talk so much... So here it is: to your left, and to your right, more than 7-in-10 of the people agreed that it is OK for Dave Agema to speak on their behalf. I submit that Dave Agema is not scurrying to vacate his role with the RNC because he is certain of who he represents. He can hear their voices back here in the district. He is making them proud. In muffled voices from the dark-places where they live, work, and pray, each are saying "thank you Dave, someone has to say it." And if this is true, Dave Agema is not the problem....not even a little bit.
John Q. Public
Mon, 01/19/2015 - 5:15pm
Given all the observable disparities between actions and words over the years from the Republicans, I can't figure out why I should believe them when they say Agema does not represent their beliefs. It sounds like just an attempt at damage control, and not any heartfelt rejection, to me.