If there was one thing that should not have caught the Illinois Republican Party off guard, it ought to have been Art Jones submitting nominating petitions to run for Congress sin the 3rd District.

After all, Jones has run for the office on multiple occasions and every time there are articles in various local newspapers – like the Landmark – outlining Jones’ neo-Nazi views and his past activities in support of white supremacy.

That he hasn’t ever had much of an impact on any race shouldn’t matter. When he appears on the ballot as the Republican candidate for Congress in the 3rd District in November, Republicans across the district and state ought to hang their heads in shame.

Ceding the ballot to a neo-Nazi is unforgiveable. Even if the district has been a Democratic stronghold for the past 40-plus years, the GOP owes its own voters a candidate who represents its traditional values – unless, of course, the party has given up on that, too.

It should also be a wake-up call for anyone who has ever had a nominating petition shoved in their direction, either by someone going door-to-door or standing outside a farmers market, collecting signatures.

Art Jones seems like a harmless guy. He’s personable; he likes to talk. “Sure, I’ll sign,” you say.

And then you wake up a couple of months later to learn you have a neo-Nazi, unopposed, on the primary ballot, because the local party leaders didn’t bother to slate a candidate.

As Charles Pierce would say, “This is your democracy, America. Cherish it.”