So what do we make of J.T. Ready, the white supremacist who murdered four people last week before turning his gun on himself?

What do we make of an avowed neo-Nazi in our midst, a deviant who at one time seemed to be an up-and-comer in East Valley Republican politics?

Beyond the obvious — that he was an enormously disturbed individual — is there any larger significance to him?

I’d say so. But not in the way some are using him.

He is no more representative of all conservatives in the illegal immigration controversy than an anarchist is in the midst of a liberal rally.

But he is symptomatic of the political cowardice of both parties, particularly the Republicans.

That party has for a variety of reasons decided that illegal immigration is an enticing political weapon to use.

And one result of that is not just J.T. Ready but other racists scrambling to Arizona to participate in the farcical border patrols conducted by such groups as the Minutemen.

These folks get to play dress-up and indulge in their fantasies. We kind of laugh them off, but as we’ve seen with Ready, they’re anything but laughable.

We shouldn’t be surprised that the J.T. Readys are in our state, given the vacuum created by the federal government.

That vacuum comes from the aforementioned cowardice displayed by both parties. Remember the brave John McCain, the one who argued for comprehensive immigration reform? He’s gone and forgotten, replaced by the “Build the Dang Fence” McCain, the craven politician desperate to be reelected, one who allowed a buffoon like J.D. Hayworth to define the immigration issue in their race. McCain and other politicians have let what used to be the fringe element take over their party.

Or Barack Obama, who as a candidate promised immigration reform. But as president, has only focused on one half of that reform — the enforcement one.

So he dramatically increased the number of immigrants deported, increased the number of Border Patrol agents, deployed unmanned drones on the Texas and Arizona borders.

And even then, he’s decried by the demagogues in our state as the “Open Borders President.”

Which, of course, is fodder for the sociopaths like Ready.

Yet the president has, in his first term, done little to address what to do with the millions of illegal immigrants who live in our country.

If our politicians behaved like grownups rather than kids perpetually running for Student Council, we might’ve had much of the illegal immigration controversy quieted by now.

That they didn’t leaves the vacuum into which the Readys come.

A black mark for our politicians, our state and our country.

• Mike McClellan is an East Valley resident and former English teacher at Dobson High School in Mesa.

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