One of the finest lines in the Declaration of Independence is “all men are created equal” and even though Thomas Jefferson failed to put that sentiment in practice in his personal life, it is a noble concept. Jefferson’s intent was that every person starts out equal, but American history has shown that all men are not equal and it has nothing to do with their achievements or station in life, but because of genetics that no human being has control over and cannot possibly change. There is no legitimate reason why, in many cultures, dark-skinned people are looked down upon, but there are, of course, religious mythos that claims god cursed dark races for some imagined sleight against his edicts. The election of Barack Obama in 2008 appeared to show that most Americans had overcome their aversion to African Americans, but there was always an undercurrent of racial animus that has grown exponentially over the past three years, and Republicans have stoked racial resentment as their path to victory in the general election.
Throughout the Republican primary race, one after another presidential contender appealed to racists by implying that President Obama is guilty of taking something that belongs to white people and giving it to lazy African Americans, and it is nearly indisputable that the party’s standard bearer going into the November election is making this election about race. Willard Romney is having difficulty running on his record as a vulture capitalist, governor of Massachusetts, or head of the 2002 winter Olympics, so he has made a calculated decision to use brazen racism as his campaign strategy, and coupled with Republican-controlled states restricting African Americans from voting, there can be little doubt he and the GOP is determined to win the election on race alone.
As more Americans learn Romney’s economic plan is giving the wealthy resources he plans to steal from middle-class and poor Americans, and that he advocates for preventing women from making their own reproductive choices, he is resorting to the only thing Republicans have left; appeal to angry white males as a path to victory. Senator Lindsey Graham reiterated that point this week when he said, “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business,” and instead of reaching out to Latino, African Americans, women, and gays, Republicans are attempting to resurrect negative racial stereotypes and bigotry to grow the “angry white guy” demographic, and Willard is at the forefront of the Republican effort. The natural inclination is to blame Romney’s racism and bigotry on his upbringing in the Mormon cult, and it likely is a contributing factor, but the truth is his policies are so abhorrent to most Americans that there is little else for him to campaign on. What is disturbing is that he is not just appealing to racial resentment in the party faithful that went on quietly in the past; he has made it the issue of his campaign.
Willard cannot run on ending Medicare, ending programs that help the poor, restricting women’s health care decisions, dirty energy, giving everything to millionaires and billionaires, perpetual war, or ending social commitments to seniors, but apparently he can run on the idea that Americans no longer have a responsibility to care for each other; especially dark-skinned people. Romney is being helped in part by teabaggers, who adhere to racial and bigoted sentiments, and it is extremely unfortunate but at this point being a bigot and racist is part and parcel of what it means to be a Republican. The Republican primary gave all the evidence Americans need to understand that, for whatever reason, Republicans are counting on white supremacy, racial resentment, and bigotry to carry the day.
Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and even Rush Limbaugh have proffered the notion that President Obama is giving reparations to African Americans and it started during the healthcare reform debate. Recently, Limbaugh claimed that Romney’s fallacious “welfare to work” ad is successful because “working class whites” don’t like “slothful welfare recipients,” and suggested using “bags of money” to shore up levees around New Orleans so poor people would drown when they made off with the money. Limbaugh said it would help the GOP “get rid of Democrats,” because everyone knows that all African Americans are Democrats. After Romney’s speech to the NAACP, he addressed a group of conservatives and bragged that he told African Americans if they want “more free stuff,” vote for the other guy.
The sad fact is, it is not just Romney using race as a campaign issue, and based on the despicable voter suppression tactics in Republican-controlled states that specifically target African Americans, the problem is endemic in the Republican Party. In Florida, a former Republican Party chairman said, “I was upset the political consultants and staff were talking about voter suppression and keeping blacks from voting, and how minority outreach programs were not fit for the Republican Party.” In Texas, a three-panel of Federal judges recently voted unanimously that the new Photo ID law discriminates against low-income individuals, especially blacks and Hispanics, and rejected Texas’ voter ID law. Willard Romney said, “I like Voter ID laws by the way… more of them,” and he knows they disproportionately disenfranchise African-Americans, but at the rate he has been demeaning African Americans, he knows they would never vote for him anyway so why not suppress their right to vote. In Georgia, the sponsor of a voter ID bill explained the rationale of her bill to the justice department that “if black people in her district are not paid to vote, they don’t go to the polls,” and that if fewer blacks vote as a result of the new law, it is only because it would end such voting fraud that study after study has proven is virtually non-existent.
What is happening in the Republican Party transcends dog-whistle racism and birtherism; they are brazen racists counting on vengeful bigots to help them win an election and it defames the entire country. One has to wonder that if Romney were to win in November, how he expects to govern when he has deliberately and with malice aforethought demeaned, disenfranchised, and alienated more than half the population? Despite the Republican racism, there are indications that Americans are disgusted at the abject bigotry being played as campaign strategy, and they will be heard in November when they reject hate that permeates the Republican Party. Lindsey Graham is right that Republicans are not “generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term” and it is a testament to most Americans who are not angry white guys, and it may be the first bit of hope for this country after a long, Republican, racist campaign.