In March of 2010 as Allen West campaigned for the Republican nomination in Florida’s 22nd congressional district, he railed against a bumper sticker that angered him greatly:
As I was driving up here today, I saw that bumper sticker that absolutely incenses me. Itâ€™s not the Obama bumper sticker. But itâ€™s the bumper sticker that says, ‘CoExist,’ and it has all the little religious symbols on it. And the reason why I get upset, and every time I see one of those bumper stickers, I look at the person inside that is driving. Because that person represents something that would give away our country. Would give away who we are, our rights and freedoms and liberties because they are afraid to stand up and confront that which is the antithesis, anathema of who we are. The liberties that we want to enjoy.
The principle of coexistence is central to the foundation of American society. The idea of coexistence is why Americans founded their own government. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution mandates a certain respect by all Americans for one another:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The First Amendment, the first enumerated set of rights for all Americans, is a right to express ideas, to share ideas, to gather together in support for ideas, to press for ideas, even to worship ideas — no matter what the content of those ideas might be. The First Amendment calls for Americans of all sorts of varying ideas to CoExist with one another in a practice of respect and tolerance for difference.
Allen West declared that the very concept of coexistence “absolutely incenses me.”
Tuesday night, Republican voters in Florida’s 22nd district chose Allen West as their nominee for the U.S. Congress by a landslide margin of 77%-23%. He will challenge incumbent Ron Klein, who has not repudiated coexistence yet.
Will a man incensed by the bedrock American idea of coexistence be elected to a seat in Congress?