With roughly four months to go until 2014’s midterm elections, which will decide which party holds the majority in both the House of Representatives and Senate, the Republican Party seems to have made the decision that blatant racism and ugly hatred will be the message the party’s candidates will push on the campaign trail. Over the past few days, we’ve seen a renewed focus by the GOP to alienate and demonize African-Americans and Hispanics, all in an effort to energize the party’s ‘old, angry white guy’ base. The hope is that this will be enough to secure victories in key House and Senate races. On the other hand, this may finally be the course of action that finally destroys the Republican Party once and for all.
Two recent events have brought out the Republican Party’s inner racist demon — the GOP’s Senate primary runoff election in Mississippi and the current crisis at the border involving migrant children from Central America. In Mississippi, Republican State Senator Chris McDaniel lost a close runoff election against incumbent Senator Thad Cochran last week. McDaniel had finished ahead of Cochran in the initial primary election weeks earlier but did not receive 50% of the vote. Therefore, a runoff was necessary. As Mississippi has an open primary system, Cochran decided to appeal to Democratic voters, and more specifically, African-American voters.
McDaniel, as well as other Tea Partiers, has objected to this, saying it is illegal and unethical. McDaniel’s team has threatened a lawsuit and wants all of the results to be tossed out. They have claimed they have seen evidence of thousands of illegal votes being cast in the runoff. They have even offered cash rewards for proof of voter fraud. Obviously the implication here is that Republicans have no business courting African-American votes. In the minds of McDaniel and the Tea Party, it doesn’t matter that Mississippi is an open primary state where there is no party registration. It is just WRONG for another Republican to appeal to black people.
In an article for Talking Points Memo, Ed Kilgore suggested that Republicans don’t want blacks invading their party unless they are willing to embrace an extremely conservative ideology. He also made a comparison between what is happening in Mississippi to the GOP’s failure to move on comprehensive immigration reform.
The idea that becoming more conservative is going to lift the prospects of Republicans among African-Americans is a complete hallucination. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say, reflecting Sojourner’s comments, that conservatives want African-Americans to change before they are worthy of outreach. And in a place like Mississippi, that means the GOP will remain the White People’s Party perpetually fearing black encroachment on its White Primary by “corrupt” pols like Cochran who dare suggest that representing constituents is more important than maintaining pure conservative ideology.
It’s possible if the “crossover” furor drags on, the Mississippi runoff could wind up becoming to GOP prospects among African-Americans what the disastrous handling of immigration reform legislation has become to GOP prospects among Latinos: a reminder that ideology trumps all, and voters who don’t share it simply aren’t welcome.
At the same time this has been going on, we’ve seen a lot of ugly rhetoric coming from the right surrounding the border crisis. Rather than convey a message of compassion and humanity for the young refugees just trying to escape violent situations in their home countries, conservatives have decided to embrace ugly xenophobia aimed and riling up their so-called base. Basically, it has been a two-pronged attack: demonize the migrants (and essentially all Hispanics) and blame President Obama for the whole situation. In other words, let conservatives know that a bunch of illegal Hispanics are jumping the border because of the black president.
Former half-term Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin has been a key figure in bringing this all to a boil. Besides getting involved in the Mississippi situation (where she showed a complete lack of understanding of the state’s election laws), she’s been stirring the pot on this border crisis. Last month, she claimed she was going to leave the GOP if President Obama didn’t send these children back home to Mexico. (Obviously not realizing at the time that these children are from Central American countries.) Earlier this week, she stated that Obama needs to be impeached for breaking the law regarding this situation. (Once again, not realizing that the reason most of these children are being detained and processed at the border is due to a law that has been in place since 2008.)
If it was just Palin acting like a heartless, xenophobic racist then that would be one thing. However, many other Republicans have decided that they need to match Mama Grizzly in terms of mean-spirited bigotry. With knowledge that his city’s immigrant processing center would be receiving some busloads of detainees from Texas to help alleviate the overcrowded conditions there, Murrieta’s Mayor Alan Long called on citizens to protest near the processing center. The result was an extremely ugly display of anger and hatred directed at the buses, which were full of scared children and mothers.
Also of note, you have Texas Governor Rick Perry’s statement that he would refuse to meet and shake the President’s hand when the President arrived in Texas on Wednesday. Perry, who is thinking about making another run at the White House in 2016, obviously wanted to play to his base by making it known that he wasn’t going to be seen being friendly to the black usurper of the Oval Office. Especially since Obama is the one letting all these brown people run through our borders and ‘fundamentally’ change the makeup of the U.S. of A. (Eventually, Perry agreed to attend a meeting that Obama had already scheduled.)
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) said he won’t vote for the President’s $3.7 billion request to assist with the border crisis as it is a huge waste of money. Instead, he suggests we spend $8 million to give all of the children first-class tickets back to their homelands and be done with it. And there are countless other examples of Republicans trying to show that they hate Hispanic immigrants the most. The fact is, the Republican Party has shown that it only knows how to appeal to the worst aspects of the human race. Sure, hatred, anger, bigotry and negativity may get people fired up over the short term. But those emotions can’t be sustained over a long period. Eventually, people just get tired of being miserable all of the time.