Let me just say this…
If you are surprised that today’s Republicans are racist, you really haven’t been paying attention.
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”
Of course, what followed was the usual hand-wringing and shock and feigned concern on the part of the Republican leadership, which went on to strip King of his committee memberships and express shock that anyone in the Republican leadership could bee so incredibly racist. Somewhat surprisingly, a lot of journalists seemed surprised sat Steve King’s outburst, to which I ask, where the hell have you been living for the last 50 years? I know, some of you weren’t alive back then, but the point is, why do so many people, when discussing the Republican Party, still invoke the “I like Ike” Republican Party of the 1950s.
Once upon a time, as right wingers have been gleefully reminding me for the last 25 years online, the Democratic Party was the home of the worst racists and reprobates. Oh, sure, the GOP had its “Taft Wing,” which specialized in the more covert brand of racism that seems to be frighteningly popular among white liberals these days; you know the kind; where “certain people” think Black people should thank us for “giving” them civil rights. Come on… how many times have you heard, “…but he marched with Dr. King” in the last 4 years?
Anyway, at one time, racism was split between the two major political parties. On the Republican side, there were a few more subtle racists, while the Democratic side featured the more virulent strain of racist, the Dixiecrats. They were the ones supporting Jim Crow and segregation.
Then came the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Goldwater thumping. When that law passed, it Wass clear that most Americans were done with the type of racism that marked our country’s history for more than 200 years, but the racists weren’t. And when Barry Goldwater had his ass kicked in the 1964 election, the Republican Party decided it had been through enough, so they adopted the “Southern Strategy,” in which they went for sheer numbers, by actively recruiting those who felt disenfranchised by the Democratic Party’s embrace of civil rights and the flight of Black Americans to the Democratic Party from the (now former) “Party of Lincoln.”
Again, that was more than a half-century ago. The Republican Party officially shed its “Party of Lincoln” moniker and embraced racism as a policy goal. Look at the early days of the shift; former Dixiecrats like Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms and Trent Lott embraced the Republican Party and they used the same rhetoric in support of the same policies, although they did clean up the language somewhat. They didn’t use the “n-word,” but their policies were just as obnoxious.
Since then, the Republican Party has become increasingly racist, but that should come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention. When you recruit the dregs of society to your political party, you can’t be surprised when that party adopts policies that go after those considered to be “other” by ignorant white people. These days, white people are the only demographic that loyally votes for the GOP every single time.
That is why the party is so keen on voter suppression; their “base” is shrinking constantly and it’s just a matter of time before they will never win another election without expanding their appeal. However, they really can’t do that. Oh, I know, in recent years the Republican Party has paid lip service to trying to appeal to other groups. George W. Bush spoke Spanish to try to appeal to Texas Latinx, for example. However, when it comes right down to it, they demonize people of Color, especially immigrants, because they have to. They feel as if they have to win, and they have to win NOW, but they can’t embrace non-whites without pissing off their ignorant white base.
The only way the current incarnation of the Republican Party will ever become something less racist and xenophobic is if they lose badly. Chastising Steve King for being what the Republican Party has become over the last couple generations misses the point; it’s like being swarmed by flies and killing one and thinking you solved the problem.
If you are disgusted by racism and you are currently a Republican, then you have some choices to make. Your party successfully combined the racist elements of both parties and they have become the guiding force behind the GOP. You can either leave the GOP and become a Democrat or you can work to make your own party better by refusing to support the racism that is a major part of the GOP philosophy.
But seriously, if you are surprised by Steve King’s statements, you really haven’t been paying attention. The GOP is the party of racists these days.
Also published on Medium.