By Tom Ehrich

“Why are you always bashing Republicans?” a reader asked.

After recoiling at the tone of whining, I decided to take her question seriously. Here goes.

First, I am not “bashing Republicans.” The Grand Old Party is a broad tent. It has included some extraordinary leaders, like Abraham Lincoln and Dwight Eisenhower, and some extraordinary people, like my father and every adult I knew growing up.

I am criticizing the right wing. Unfortunately, the right wing is in solid control of the GOP, but that is the GOP’s problem. If would-be demagogues like narcissistic blowhard Donald Trump and faux-Christian bigot Ted Cruz are carrying the GOP banner, the GOP needs to deal with it. I hope the Republican Party will come to its senses in time to present a viable candidate for President in 2016.

Meantime, we have the right wing, and in my opinion, the right wing is a “clear and present danger” to the United States.

The campaigns of Trump and Cruz, and to a lesser degree Rubio, sound like a run-up to fascism – demonizing vulnerable minorities, playing to people’s fears, fanning rage, leading cheers for bigotry, claiming normal institutions are the problem, offering themselves as the “strong leader” who can “save the nation.”

Without any regard for fact or truth, the candidates offer whatever lies will rile the crowds. They unleash supporters on opponents, as Hitler once unleashed his brownshirts. They mock and sneer and dehumanize, as if the nation would be better off without any gays, uppity women, or people of color seeking dignity.

The right wing offers up a vision of patriotism that is a wild parody of the patriotism shown by actual soldiers, actual workers for justice, actual men and women doing their best to build a solid nation where their children can grow up in peace and freedom.

The right wing offers a shocking version of the Christian Gospel. They call it “evangelical.” But it couldn’t be farther from the actual Gospel that Jesus spoke and lived.

They provide safe cover for the wealthy, who are the ones causing misery among the middle and lower classes. In exchange for lavish campaign contributions, the right wing blames government and turns attention away from the wealthy while they loot the economy.

In their bigoted obsession with an African-American president, the right wing shuts down the government, votes to deny health benefits, ignores gains in the economy, and threatens instead a campaign to roll back anything that benefits the public.

This is why I call the right wing into question. In my opinion, they are enemies of democracy. They are enemies of freedom. They are enemies of honesty and common sense.

You might see it differently. That’s fine. This is a free land where we all can speak our minds.