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Haley And Scott Give GOP A Racism Permission Slip
They Have No Interest In Rocking The Boat
The Republican Party has had a racism problem for decades and it has resulted in lopsided election results among minority groups, particularly among Black voters where 88% went for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and 87% went for Joe Biden in 2020. Fundamentally this dynamic is unlikely to change in the next presidential election, because despite the candidacies of Nikki Haley and Tim Scott, the Republican Party is still a fundamentally racist enterprise and neither one of those individuals gives a damn about it.
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The racism of the Donald Trump-era Republican Party is crude and up front, and instead of using the coded language of the Reagan to George W. Bush editions of the party (states rights!), it is right there on the surface. This racist appeal — calling Mexicans rapists, praising Nazis as “very fine people,” time and time again singling out Democratic women of color for attacks and harassment (Kamala Harris, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) — is how the party appeals to its base.
Scott, who is Black, and Haley, who is South Asian, are not doing a thing to confront this vile mechanism within their party. They aren’t using their candidacies to rebuke racism while championing small government conservatism or other right-wing ideas that aren’t about race. If anything, Scott and Haley are giving the racist impulse within the Republican Party and the wider conservative movement a permission slip to get even worse.
That is because when these two candidates speak about racism they explicitly tell conservative voters they aren’t the bad guys. Recently, in reaction to President Barack Obama’s accurate assessment that neither one of them is addressing systemic racism, they both took it as an opportunity to tell conservative voters, once again, that they are the victims. This is the same story that racist Republicans like Trump and Ron DeSantis and the rest use, and it goes all they way back to Ronald Reagan promoting mythical welfare queens.
In the conservative psyche, it is the left that is always unfairly accusing them of being bigots. You see, when they constantly point to Black cities like Chicago as dens of crime and gun violence, ignoring the crime and violence in the rest of white-dominated America, they’re not being racist. And they certainly aren’t being bigoted when they characterize Mexican immigrants as all gang members, or Muslim people of all secretly harboring plans of instituting Sharia law. No, they’re just being concerned citizens.
And Scott and Haley regurgitated these tropes in their responses to Obama, refusing to concede that the first Black president in American history and the subject of the most racist attacks from the Republican Party and the conservative movement, might have them all nailed.
These candidates aren’t interested in reforming Republican racism. They don’t even rebuke it in the lightest of terms. They feed it, with disingenuous arguments that insist that liberals, Democrats, and Black Democrats and liberals are the “real racists.”
Their message is that fundamentally nothing about the Republican Party needs to change and that a party that champions the likes of Trump, who is rejected by voters of color, is fine where it is.
So their candidacies aren’t really groundbreaking. They may both have browner skin than Trump, but it is his and the rest of the movement’s bigoted values still on the inside at the end of the day. By shielding the bigotry from criticism, Haley and Scott ultimately give it shelter and comfort instead of the confrontation it so desperately needs.
Democrats by no means have a spotless record on racial issues, and the success of President Obama and Vice President Harris doesn’t make injustice disappear. Both parties should be held to the highest possible standard of perfection and the bar shouldn’t be lowered. Bigotry isn’t okay and under no circumstance should it be allowed for a nanosecond.
But voters of color aren’t fooled. Just because Tim Scott is a Black man doesn’t mean voters can’t see a wave of hate coming from a mile away. Scott isn’t on their side, trying to stop the Republican tide, but is instead trying to crassly benefit from it. Haley is embracing the Confederate legacy of her home state of South Carolina instead of using her position to do something about the legacy stemming from America’s original sin.
These candidates are aiding and abetting racism. If they were capable of shame, they should be ashamed.
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