Trump’s GOP: The party of white grievance?
Before Donald Trump, Republicans primarily appealed to racially bigoted whites through code words and symbols, said Jelani Cobb in NewYorker.com. “With Trump, the racism is out in the open.” Consider the victory last week of Mississippi Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith in the state’s runoff election for a U.S. Senate seat. Hyde-Smith won over Democrat Mike Espy, who is black, despite a video showing her telling a supporter she’d gladly sit “in the front row” of a public hanging. Voters also learned that Hyde-Smith—who was enthusiastically endorsed by Trump—graduated from a private “segregation academy” set up to circumvent Brown v. Board, and called Jefferson Davis’ old home “Mississippi history at its best!” Outside Mississippi, said Samuel Sinyangwe in Vox.com, other Republicans also “ran on racism.” Florida Gov.–elect Ron DeSantis warned that his black opponent, Andrew Gillum, would “monkey up” the state. In Georgia, Gov.-elect Brian Kemp boasted that he drives a pickup truck so he can round up “criminal illegals.”
Nobody spots racism like a liberal who’s lost an election, said Wesley Pruden in WashingtonTimes.com. Hyde-Smith is “a nice lady with a gift for saying graceless things”—her quip about hangings was just a clumsy joke. Yet Democrats sought to portray her and every white supporter as modern-day Klansmen. It’s Democrats, in fact, who’ve been “only too happy to polarize the electorate along racial lines,” said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. Gillum complains that he lost the Florida gubernatorial race “because he is black.” Then why did he do worse among black voters than the state’s progressive Senate candidate, Bill Nelson, who’s white?
Deny the obvious if you like, said Max Boot in The Washington Post, but “neocons” are taking over the GOP. Not neoconservatives, mind you—“neo-Confederates.” Hyde-Smith may seem like an extreme case, having once dressed as a Confederate general and waved a Confederate battle flag. But Corey Stewart, the defeated GOP candidate for Senate in Virginia, called Confederate history “what makes us Virginia”; Kemp recently refused to take down “the biggest Confederate monument in the world,” and the flagrantly racist Rep. Steve King of Iowa—a state that fought for the Union—has displayed a Confederate flag on his desk. Even when not waving the Dixie flag, Republicans have signed on to Trump’s strategy of “pandering to white grievances.” ■