There are some things that are predictable in American politics, especially around campaign season. Democrats in tight races in Purple districts or states will be described as “moderates” or “centrists” in the Press. Democrats will accuse Republicans of “voter suppression.” 99% of journalist “mistakes” that are politically damaging will – strangely – be damaging to the Republican. Democrats will “discover” troves of uncounted ballots after election day.
Non-white Republican candidates will be deliberately ignored and receive the absolute barest minimum of coverage in the media.
But even more predictable than any of the above is Republicans being accused of racism.
Of course, this is a constant even out of campaign season. In fact, it may be the sole reason MSNBC exists. If you’ve not been accused of racism as a Republican it simply means you’ve been a Republican for only about ten minutes.
What is equally as predictable is that – even after fifty years of the same thing being done to them over and over and over again – every Republican finding him or herself being branded a racist will be caught completely flatfooted, will panic, and 99% of the time, respond in a way that will only makes things worse.
1. They hunker down into the fetal position, clearly thinking if they ignore the problem and pretend the “controversy” doesn’t exist, it would, somehow, just die down and go away on its own. This sometimes involves releasing a statement that dances around the allegation and then repeatedly (and woodenly) referring back to it like a mantra when questioned. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith gave the nation a masterclass in this approach … that she kept her seat is due only to the short timeline and the fact that she was running in Mississippi.
2. They apologize, thinking this would bring the “controversy” to an end. This is sometimes couched as a bid to move on to the “real” issues. Either way, it almost always backfires, badly. For some reason, Republican politicians and their campaign operatives seem incapable of understanding that an apology for racism means you are guilty of … racism. This basically has the same effect as trying to put out a fire with gasoline.
3. They deny the allegations while simultaneously conceding that their accusers may have good reason to make them. This is often accompanied by a pledge to join with their accusers to combat the scourge of racism, together. This usually signifies that the accuser is backed by, or is, a player in the “civil rights” establishment, i.e. the NAACP, and, according to conventional wisdom, a direct confrontation could be more harmful than avoidance. Ultimately it’s a tactic that attempts to both deny the accusation while genuflecting to the accuser. It’s also a tactic that has a very low, almost non-existent, rate of success.
In fact, none of the above approaches have anything that, by any measure, resembles a record of success. And yet, even after 50 years, the entirety of the Republican Party’s best campaign minds has been unable to come up with a response any better than these.
The result is that, for Democrats, leveling charges of racism is now an entirely cost and risk free exercise. In fact, it is all profit – the worst case for them is that they lose the election and you limp into office indelibly tarred with the “racist” label, which would certainly come up again at reelection time. In the best case, they win the seat, permanently destroy your reputation and terminate your career in elected office.
In both cases and every case in between, the GOP’s reputation as being the home of racism and every other form of bigotry gets another piece of “evidence” to shore it up.
Judging by how little attention is paid to this issue, year in and year out, the Republican consultant class appears to have absolutely no idea just how much damage this is doing to the GOP and its candidates. And while many of the “experts” reading the midterm tea leaves are sounding the alarm about the inroads Democrats are making in the suburbs, and correctly noting that white suburbanites are turning against the GOP, not many appear to have the “racism” issue on their radar.
Democrats and their operatives in the media are not investing so much time and treasure trying to make ‘GOP’ synonymous with ‘KKK’ for fun and games. They do it because it is effective, and, because, frankly, it costs them nothing and because it profits them in both the long and short term.
People of all races now instinctively shy away from anything that has been tarred with the “racism” brush. Not only does it drive minority voters away from the GOP (especially African Americans), the fact of the matter is that the “racist” label is kryptonite to every voter demographic, whites in suburbia most definitely included.
So this really should go without saying – if you’re talking about reforming the Alternative Minimum Tax, while your opponent and his supporters are talking about your supposed nostalgia for Jim Crow, and you ignore it thinking virtuous silence would somehow be noticed and win you the votes of appreciative “moderates”, you are going to lose.
Unfortunately, thanks to the GOP’s continued penchant for panicked retreat at allegations of “racism”, no matter how far-fetched or ridiculous, the go-to tactic for Democrats and their media operatives has naturally become to recast anything and everything as a racial issue.
Words, phrases, legal terms, etc. in common usage, even place names, e.g. “Chicago” are suddenly ominously pronounced to be “code words” or “racially charged.” Disagreements on policy issues are all pronounced to be “secretly” due to some racial animus or conspiracy to harm minorities.
Worse yet is that every election cycle sees Republican political victories attributed to some supposed appeal to racial bigotry and prejudice (i.e. “dog whistles”, “code words”, etc.) supposedly running strong within the rank and file of the GOP, with not a peep of protest from Republican officials at the smearing of their voters.
In short, the Democrats and their media adjuncts are openly carrying out an ever expanding program of aversion therapy against the GOP with the voting populace while Republicans are busy uselessly wringing their hands. And it’s working.
As someone who works in a field employing its fair share of expatriates – many hoping to naturalize at some point – I’ve met numerous newly arrived (legal) immigrants from every corner of the globe – repulsed by abortion, very socially conservative, educated, driven, religious and hard working – yet convinced even before setting foot on American soil that the GOP is racist and the ancestral home of the KKK.
Yes, I can personally attest that they do watch CNN in Africa, Asia and South America.
Which is why it continues to flummox me every time a Republican is called a racist, he or she seems to think the occasion calls for proving what a “good sport” you are. Newsflash; if you’re falsely accused of being a fraud or a pedophile, you’re supposed to be angry about it. You’re supposed to be upset. You’re supposed to be enraged at slander.
Yet the very same Republican politician who would unapologetically rain down fire and brimstone on anyone who accuses him of being corrupt or unethical in a business meeting transforms into a obsequious, quivering, tongue-tied pusilanimous wreck once the word “racist” makes its (inevitable) appearance. Instead of angry denunciations, we get statements with the harshest words being “sadness” and “disappointment” peppered with “both sides”, “respectfully” and “work together”.
This needs to f*****ng stop.
Make no mistake; no one – individual or group – who calls you a racist means you well. They are no different from someone who deliberately, falsely accuses you of pedophilia. They are not trying to “communicate” with you, “enlighten” you, or “reach out” to you. It is not an exciting new opportunity for bipartisan cooperation. They, he or she is actively trying to destroy you, strip you of your reputation, your livelihood and any semblance of a decent life for you and your family.
Anger and outrage is exactly what is called for here. “Sadness” and “disappointment” implies respect or some regard for that person’s opinion. No one who falsely accuses you of racism is worthy of your respect, consideration or even basic courtesy. The proper response is to attack, denounce them and insult them in the same harsh and uncompromising manner that you would greet a false charge of theft or rape. You do not shake their hand, you do not say nice things about them … you shower them with insults and make no bones about your contempt for them.
Read this until it sticks; no one who calls you a racist, is deserving of your respect. What they deserve is your anger, your denunciation, your outrage and contempt. They do not deserve your courtesy. If you end up on a stage together, don’t shake his or her hand without demanding and getting an apology. And yes, that includes people who “only” say you “appeal” to racists.
Stop letting them insult your supporters and voters. You should not sit quietly back and allow some smarmy talking head on television suggest that the “real” reason people trooped to the polls to cast their ballots for you is because you sent some secret racist message. In fact, silence in this case is nothing short of dishonorable.
Stop letting them slander you. Once you start asking people for votes, it’s no longer just about you. You owe it to your supporters to safeguard your own damn reputation.
Stop f****ng apologizing.