Michael Williams, a conservative candidate for governor, is quick to point out that he was the first elected official in the state to publicly endorse Donald Trump. And for the past 18 months, he hasn’t so much ridden on the coattails of President Trump as much as clawed to his leg, begging for validation.
So when Trump recently suggested that he would push for the ban of bump stocks following the Marjory Stoneman Douglass High shooting, Williams, who normally heralds everything the president says, fell silent.
This is probably because following the Las Vegas massacre last October, Williams campaigned through his website that he would give away a bump stock to protest a drive to outlaw the devices.
“There is zero evidence that banning bump stocks would prevent any gun violence deaths,” Williams said in an Oct. 16, 2017 press release. “Georgia’s gun owners deserve a governor who will stand with them when liberals and Hollywood elites attack our fundamental rights. That’s why I am standing for the Second Amendment and giving away a bump stock as a show of support.”
By Williams’ argument, Trump’s call for the ban on bump stocks is not only an attack on fundamental rights led by the left, it would also do nothing to deter mass shootings. That is probably not something you want on your resume when you are trying to be the president’s poster boy.
Williams, like his political idol, has campaigned on a strategy of inciting voters and playing to the fact he is not a career politician. But what could be more political than going quiet on a stance that you once held so strongly when party leaders come out in opposition?
And what could be more political than a little hypocrisy?
Around the Super Bowl, a release from Williams stated he is “done with the NFL” resulting from “watching the disgraceful kneeling antics of players during the National Anthem.”
He went on to say that players who kneel are “overpaid crybabies” that, without NFL patronage, “would be nobodys (sic) that couldn’t qualify to be garbage men.”
Williams was quick to call out these athletes for exercising their right to free speech, but just a few months before had cried foul over his own protest and First Amendment rights.
When a Cherokee County teacher removed two students from class for wearing “Make America Great Again” shirts, Williams called for her to be canned. When the school board retained the teacher, he staged a protest in front of the high school, even after the Cherokee County School District said that the event could create safety concerns.
The gubernatorial candidate and his supporters showed up anyway.
In a press release regarding the school district’s challenge, Williams said: “The First Amendment will not be destroyed in Georgia!”
So free speech is fine for Williams. Unless the challenge runs counter to the candidate’s own views.
Again, what could be more political than that?
If Williams wants to go to bat for Trump at every turn, I say by all means. But if you want to campaign as a non-politician, have the courage to go against your party.