On Meet The Press today, Colin Powell made mention of several recent racist attacks by Republicans on President Obama, and called the party on their use of racial code words.
Video via Think Progress:
Gen. Powell said, “There’s also a dark — a dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party. What do I mean by that? I mean by that that they still sort of look down on minorities. How can I evidence that? When I see a former governor say that the President is “shuckin’ and jivin’,” that’s racial era slave term. When I see another former governor after the president’s first debate where he didn’t do very well, says that the president was lazy. He didn’t say he was slow. He was tired. He didn’t do well. He said he was lazy. Now, it may not mean anything to most Americans, but to those of us who are African Americans, the second word is shiftless and then there’s a third word that goes along with that. The birther, the whole birther movement. Why do senior Republican leaders tolerate this kind of discussion within the party?”
The 2012 election year was loaded with racial attacks from Republican presidential candidates towards both President Obama and the nation’s minorities. There was Newt Gingrich labeling Obama the food stamp president. Rick Santorum made the not so veiled claim that President Obama was giving white people’s money to lazy blacks, and Mitt Romney’s entire campaign strategy from immigration to his speech at the NAACP convention appeared to be designed to court the white vote by attacking minorities.
The examples that Gen. Powell did mention were so outrageous that even the blindest of the politically blind could see what John Sununu and Sarah Palin were trying to do.However, Palin and Sununu represent different kinds of racism within the Republican Party. Palin’s racism is symptomatic of the beliefs of the core rank and file within the GOP. Sarah Palin’s views represent the culture of racism that has overtaken the former Party of Lincoln.
In contrast, Sununu’s remarks represented the Republican Party’s cynical use of racism as a political tactic. Ever since Barack Obama won his first Democratic nomination, the Republican Party has mistakenly believed that racism is the path to defeating this president. Republicans used racism to delegitimize the president during the 2008 campaign. They continued the attacks throughout his first term, and the Romney campaign took it to whole new overt level in 2012.
The Republicans have shown no signs that two presidential election losses have taught them anything. It was important for Powell to mention the Sarah Palin style culture of racism within the Republican Party, because that is what has to change. If the Democrats nominate a white person in 2016, cynical Republican campaign operatives will see less value in an overtly racist political strategy. It is the culture of racism within the GOP that is blocking immigration reform and pushing Hispanics out of the party. The culture of racism on the right is the driving force behind the losing presidential campaigns.
The right’s racism has ruined the Republican brand, and their willingness to repair the damage that has been done will determine their future viability as a national political party.