Ironically, given that one of the party’s founders was responsible for emancipating African-American slaves, racism has been an integral part of the GOP ideology for a very long time, most especially after a Democratic president signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law. Of course, the Republican party vehemently denies its racist appeal. But, if you examine the party’s electoral platforms from the 60s and 70s, you’ll see that states’ rights (aka Jim Crow-style racism) has long been a central theme. And if you look at the electoral maps before and after 1964, you’ll see that the South – the former slave states – suddenly turned bright red.
Lee Atwater, GOP strategist and advisor to presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, admitted as much.
During an interview, he described the party’s southern strategy this way, “You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger” — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”
In other words, the party stopped using the overt language of Jim Crow and resorted to dog whistles, instead. But things changed in 2008 when the nation’s first black president was elected. It’s not coincidental that GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky responded to the 2008 election results by vowing to make Barack Obama a one-term president and by successfully blocking much of his legislation. And the party’s rhetoric, once again, became more explicit. Many of the party’s faithful and conservative pundits felt comfortable using the N word to describe the president and his family. They held up racist posters and circulated racist memes. They denied he was a citizen, they demanded to see his birth certificate and they talked about sending him back to Kenya.
In 2015, things only got worse when Donald J. Trump – the most vocal of the “birthers” – began his campaign for president as a Republican.
Trump had long been a racist. He was raised by parents who were members of the KKK. He had been charged with refusing to rent properties to people of color. He had run a full-page ad calling for the execution of five innocent young men of color who had been falsely accused. And when he took a momentary recess from tweeting, got off his gold-plated toilet, and came down the gold-plated escalator in Trump Tower to announce his candidacy for president of the United States, he began by calling Mexican immigrants murderers, rapists and terrorists.
Central to Trump’s campaign was a promise to end “Political Correctness” – code for “It’s okay to be racist again.” One of his advisors and most powerful backers was Steve Bannon who, as editor of Breitbart News, called his website a platform for the alt-right, a nuanced name for white supremacists. In addition, many of Trump’s policies have been guided by Stephen Miller who has long circulated racist talking points by email and social media. Yet another advisor, and Trump’s first choice for Attorney General, was Sen. Jeff Sessions who clearly harbored racist beliefs. Even one of Trump’s campaign themes, “America First,” was originally used by Nazi sympathizers prior to the US entry into WWII. The theme has also been extensively used by the KKK.
Once ensconced in the White House, Trump not only surrounded himself with fellow racists, he embraced white “Christian” evangelicals who saw him as a vehicle to criminalize gay marriage, to end abortion, and to consolidate the Holy Land under Israel’s control in order to fulfill a prophecy that will hasten the return of their Messiah. Of course, the evangelicals’ hatred and bigotry are not confined to homosexuality and advocates of family planning. Many white evangelicals have long associated with white nationalism. Historically, they have not only excused the violence of the KKK and other racist groups. They have marched alongside them. And they have helped burn crosses on the lawns of black families.
Indeed, the symbolism of the white-hooded mobs and Christian crosses have long been intertwined.
So, when you see the Trump administration try to ban all Muslims from entering the US; when you hear Trump call predominately black nations “shit hole countries,” when you hear the administration order babies to be ripped from the arms of brown-skinned parents and placed in cages; when you see brown-skinned refugees being sent back to their countries of origin to face near certain deaths; when you hear the president excuse the violence of white supremacists against protesters by saying “there were good people on both sides”; when you hear him tell black congresswomen to “go back where you came from”; when you see Republicans use a variety of means to suppress and diminish the vote of African-Americans; when you hear white evangelical “Christians” say that Trump was sent by God to save the US; when you see polls that show Trump’s approval rating among Republicans is 74 percent; when you see that 53 percent of Republicans believe that Trump is a better president than Abraham Lincoln, you arrive at one inescapable conclusion:
A majority of GOP voters and a substantial number of the “Christian” faithful are hopelessly and unapologetically racist!