Rthe epublicans were in trouble. Mitt Romney, his candidate for the presidency of the United States, had been crushed by Barack Obama. The party commissioned an “autopsy” report proposing a radical rethink. “If we want ethnic minority voters to support Republicans,” he said, “we have to engage them and show our sincerity.”
Ten years after Romney’s loss, Republicans are fighting for their first election since Donald Trump’s presidency. But far from entering my terms next month as the party of tolerance, diversity and sincerity, critics say, they have unapologetically shown themselves to be the party of hate.
Perhaps nothing captures the charge more eloquently than a three-word post that appeared on the official Twitter account of House Judiciary Committee member Jim Jordan on October 6. He said, simply and strangely: “Kanye. Elon. Trump.”
The first of this unholy trinity concerned Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, who has recently come under fire for wearing a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt at Paris Fashion Week and for anti-Semitic messages on social media social media, including one that said he would soon go to “death against 3 on the Jewish people.”
The second was billionaire Elon Musk, who published a pro-Russian peace plan for Ukraine and denied reports that he had spoken to Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin.
The third was former President Donald Trump, who wrote last weekend that American Jews don’t get enough praise for his policies toward Israel, warning that they need to “come up” before “it’s too late.” . The comment played on the anti-Semitic prejudice that American Jews have dual loyalties to the US and Israel.
He was condemned by the White House as “insulting” and “anti-Semitic”. But when historian Michael Beschloss tweeted, “Any Republican Party leaders have any comment on Trump’s admonition to American Jews?” the silence was deafening.
Republicans have long been accused of codified bigotry and nods and winks to their base. There was an assumption of rules of political etiquette and taboos that could not be broken. Now, it seems, politics has entered a post-shame era where anything goes.
Jared Holt, an extremism researcher at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue think tank, said: “The kind of things they would say in closed rooms full of donors that they just say in the open now. It’s a cliché, but I always remember what I heard growing up, which is that when people tell you who they are, you have to believe them.”
Examples are becoming increasingly difficult to minimize or ignore. Earlier this month, Tommy Tuberville, a Republican senator from Alabama, told a campaign rally in Nevada that Democrats support reparations for descendants of enslaved people because they “think that the people who do the crime should be owe that.” The comment was widely condemned for stereotyping African Americans as people who commit crimes.
And Marjorie Taylor Greene, a congresswoman from Georgia, echoed the right’s “great surrogate” theory when she said at a rally in Arizona: “Joe Biden’s 5 million illegal aliens are ready of replacing you, replacing your jobs and replacing your children in school. and, coming from all over the world, they are also replacing your culture.”
Those comments have given Democrats ammunition as they fight to preserve slim majorities in the House and Senate. Even as the party faces electoral headwinds on inflation, crime and border security, there is plenty of evidence that Trump remains dominant among Republicans, a big motivator for Democratic turnout.
In fact, Trump did more than anyone else to reverse the autopsy in 2013. In his first bid for the presidency, he referred to Mexicans as criminals, drug dealers and rapists and pledged to build a border wall and impose a Muslim ban. Opponents suggest it freed Republicans to say the unspeakable, against so-called political correctness and give supporters the thrill of transgression.
Antjuan Seawright, senior adviser to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said, “He’s been the creator of the permit slip and the validator of the permit slip. For many of them, he’s their springboard to jump even further with their red-meat racial rhetoric from the right.”
Beyond the Republican headline stars, the trend is also playing out at the grassroots. In schools, the party has launched a radical assault on what teachers can say or teach about race, gender identity, LGBTQ+ issues and American history. A Washington Post analysis found that 25 states have passed 64 laws reshaping what students can learn and do in school over the past three academic years.
There are examples of the new extremism all over the country. The New York Republican Club will host an event on Monday with Katie Hopkins, a far-right British political commentator who has compared migrants to cockroaches and was repeatedly retweeted by Trump before both were banned from the social media platform.
In Idaho, a long-time deeply conservative state, Dorothy Moon, the new chairwoman of the state Republican party, is accused of close associations with militia groups and white nationalists. Last month, she appeared on Trump ally Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast to accuse the state’s Pride festival and parade of sexualizing children.
A recent headline in the Idaho Capital Sun newspaper read, “Hate is back in Idaho, this time with political backing.”
Michelle Vincenta senior adviser to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stephen Heidt, noted that such streams have long been a problem in Idaho, but said, “Trump made hate OK. He made bad behavior look well because of the extremes of what he was doing. They started emulating him. People were abused here during the Black Lives Matter protests. We have so much militia here and they’re out of control.”
In many cases, the bare bigotry goes hand in hand with Trump’s “big lie” that he was robbed of the last election due to widespread voter fraud. A New York Times investigation found that about 70 percent of Republican midterm candidates running for Congress in next month’s midterm elections have questioned or flatly denied the results of the 2020 election.
Now they can count on the support of Tulsi Gabbard, a former Democratic congresswoman and presidential candidate who in 2017 met with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and dismissed all his opposition as “terrorist.” Gabbard this week defected to the Republicans and campaigned for Kari Lake. the Republican candidate for governor of Arizona and an unabashed defender of the big lie.
Another negative of the election is Doug Mastriano, a political novice who is running for governor of Pennsylvania with the help of extreme right-wing personalities. He was outside the US Capitol during the January 6 uprising and photographed watching protesters attack police before allegedly walking away.
Mastriano has repeatedly criticized his opponent, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, for attending and sending his children to what he calls a “privileged, exclusive and elite” school, suggesting it demonstrates Shapiro’s “menus for people like us.” It is a Jewish day school where students receive both secular and religious education.
After a long courtship, Trump himself in recent months has begun to seriously embrace the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory QAnon. In September, using his Truth Social platform, the former president reposted an image of himself wearing a Q-lap pin overlaid with the words “The storm is coming.” A QAnon song has been played at the end of several of his campaign rallies.
Ron Klein, president of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, said: “It is very unfortunate that the Republican party is silent and complicit in this anti-Semitic language that is being proposed by Donald Trump and others who align with him. But it is very indicative of a Republican party that does not want to confront right-wing extremists.”
Klein, a former congressman, added: “Some members of the Republican party used dog whistles and symbolic language to make their points about minorities, including the Jewish community, and that was very troubling. But the era of Donald Trump has just lifted the rock under which these people now feel that it is okay and even useful for them to make these kinds of statements and use these kinds of words to gain political power and political stature, which is very troubling in the our countries. American political system.”
The autopsy of 2013 now seems like a blip, an outlier, in half a century of Republican politics. Richard Nixon’s 1968 “law and order” message fueled racial fear and resentment in the South. Ronald Reagan demonized “welfare queens” in 1976 and, four years later, launched his election campaign with a speech praising “states’ rights” near the site of the “Mississippi Burning” murders, seen by many as a nod to the southern states that were resentful. the federal government that enforces civil rights.
A political action committee linked to George HW Bush’s 1988 campaign paid for an attack ad blaming Democratic challenger Michael Dukakis for the case of Willie Horton, an African-American convict who committed rape while on prison leave. Lee Atwater, Bush’s campaign manager, boasted that he would make Horton “Dukakis’ running mate.”
Atwater’s playbook is being deployed again in midterm Senate races as Republicans Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Mehmet Oz of Pennsylvania run attack ads accusing their Democratic opponents, Mandela Barnes and John Fetterman, of of being soft on crime, often with images of black prisoners.
Stuart Stevens, a veteran Republican campaign strategist who wrote a scathing indictment of the party’s trajectory, It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump, said: “I don’t think Donald Trump makes people more racist or anti-Semitic; I think it gave them permission to express it.”
Stevens, a senior adviser to the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump group, continued: “It’s a party of white grievances and anger and hatred are an element of that.”
Kurt Bardellaa Democratic strategist and former Republican congressional aide, agreed: “The real consequence of Donald Trump’s presidency is that he gave permission to so many people in the party who used to try to mask or hide their racism. Now they feel they can bring- with pride and they do it”.
With hate crimes on the rise across America, there are fears that comments by Trump, Tuberville, Greene and others will lead to life-threatening threats and violence. Bardella added: “We learned after January 6 that, for the faithful of the Republican party, they are not just words, they are instructions. It is a very dangerous development that one of America’s major political parties has made a conscious decision to embrace white nationalism.”