America is an amazing, generous and inspiring country where even if you have nothing but white skin, rage, fake victimhood, and criminal charges, you too can have a chance to rise up and try to become a Republican senator! That’s Mark McCloskey’s American dream. He’s betting that his illegal use of a firearm to menace peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters can capture the hearts of Republican voters and win him a Senate seat in Missouri.
You’ll remember Mark and his wife Patricia as the personal injury attorneys who brandished guns from the safety of their mansion’s manicured front lawn in a privileged, gated St. Louis suburb. Viral photos of McCloskey—wearing a pink polo shirt tucked into his khakis, barefoot and pointing his assault rifle at unarmed Black people—spread around the world.
Sane people were horrified. Republicans were inspired by a new hero who posed as an alpha male, a tough guy like Gary Cooper, John Wayne, or John McClane, fictional models of the sort of violent, pretend masculinity that has allegedly have been canceled by “the wokes.” In MAGA world’s upside-down account, the McCloskeys were the real victims, protecting themselves from terrifying BLM rioters who’d had the audacity to walk in front of their house. That’s the story the McCloskeys told at the 2020 Republican National Convention, where they were given primetime real estate to warn the base of “Marxist liberal activities” and “criminals” who want to “abolish the suburbs.” They fueled white anxiety by staring directly at the camera and warning voters that “no matter where you live, your family will not be safe in the radical Democrats’ America.” Well, Trump lost, Biden was elected, and now those very same families have vaccines and stimulus checks during a devastating pandemic—but, I digress.
As I wrote last year, their speech would have fit perfectly in Birth of a Nation, the 1915 blockbuster based on white supremacist novels that revitalized the KKK and portrayed Black people’s emancipation as a zero-sum outcome that would inevitably oppress white men and terrorize white women. Judging from McCloskey’s rhetoric and history, he’ll be an effective cultural warrior for the modern GOP and help them achieve their goal of re-birthing this nation as a country ruled by a white Christian conservative minority.
Of course, McCloskey announced his campaign in an appearance with Tucker Carlson. “God came knocking on my door disguised as an angry mob. It really did wake me up,” McCloskey told his fellow elitist and gated community enthusiast. If you take his absurd metaphor to its logical conclusion, then he admitted on live television that he threatened God with a loaded weapon until God left his property. That’s neither neighborly nor Christian, but at least McCloskey stood his ground and flexed his Second Amendment rights—against the Almighty, no less! McCloskey continued to check boxes on Republican bingo by promising he’d fight all their supervillains and strawmen: critical race theory, cancel culture, Big Tech, Marxists, and so forth.
Like Donald Trump, the GOP’s chosen one and golden calf, McCloskey has a long, litigious and "hostilely"—his term—history of protecting his private property. In 2020, the St. Louis Dispatch catalogued the McCloskeys’ rich history of “fighting back.” McCloskey once admitted to pointing a gun at a neighbor just to “defend" a patch of his green lawn from being mowed. He once ran off trustees who were trying to make repairs to the wall surrounding their property. He once left a note admitting to destroying bee hives planted by the neighboring Jewish Central Reform Congregation just outside his mansion’s northern wall and threatened that he’d seek a restraining order and attorney fees if they didn’t clean up the mess. The community had planned to use the honey for Rosh Hashanah events.
Like conservative Supreme Court justices, McCloskey is also apparently an originalist. His neighbors accused him and his wife of trying to enforce the old written rules in the neighborhood trust agreement as a way to block gay people from living on their block. In 1992, the trustees voted to impeach his wife, Patricia McCloskey, accusing her of being anti-gay. (They have emphatically denied those accusations.)
The more you think about it, Mark McCloskey is the perfect model for the modern Republican elected official. He has absolutely zero experience in politics, like Sen. Tommy Tuberville from Alabama, a former football coach who didn’t know the three branches of the U.S. government. He seems more interested in fighting delusional cultural wars than actually legislating, which means he can take lessons from Rep. Madison Cawthorn, who didn’t so much confess as brag that “I have built my staff around comms rather than legislation" and unsurprisingly leads congressional freshmen for missing the most votes. He has "economic anxiety" which means he’ll always have a seat at the overcrowded table, flanked by Paul Gosar, a white supremacist, and every other Republican who promotes conspiracy theories about the Deep State and “replacement theory.”
Perhaps McCloskey’s most appealing trait for Republican voters is his commitment to aggression and using guns and lawsuits to get what he wants and protect what’s his. That’s catnip to a GOP base that loves the “old ultra-violence.” Only 35 Republican members of the House voted with Democrats to pursue a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection that left five people dead. A majority of Republican voters believe the “Big Lie” that rallied the mob and that will undoubtedly inspire future violence and attempts to cancel free and fair elections. Republicans have elevated and adulated murderer Kyle Rittenhouse, who also illegally carried guns and used them against BLM protesters during last summer’s protests.
I bet Mark McCloskey stays awake at night in his spacious estate in St Louis, tossing and turning while plagued with painful regret: Had I fired my semi-automatic weapon at the peaceful crowd of BLM protesters, I’d be a sure thing in this race, if not running for president. Trump joked about shooting someone on Fifth Avenue but I waved a gun at Black people in a video seen around the world.
But McCloskey didn’t fire, and that means he has to compete against two Republican rivals, state Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Eric Greitens, the disgraced former governor who blackmailed and coerced a woman into having sex with him.
As you can tell, Republican voters in Missouri have a very difficult choice ahead of them when deciding which of these men best represents their values and interests. They can find comfort in knowing that at least two out of three candidates will stay on brand if they want to continue being the party of violent criminals.