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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

At this point, you really have to wonder: Is it still news when a Republican says something asinine?

On the off chance it is, let us spend a few moments pondering the strange case of Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks, who said last week that the Democratic Party is waging a “War on Whites.”

Yeah, he actually said that. You can look it up if you want.

Brooks was responding to radio talk show host Laura Ingraham, who had asked him to comment on a remark from National Journal columnist Ron Fournier to the effect that the GOP cannot continue to be competitive in national elections if it continues to alienate voters of color. This is a truth so self-evident as to have been adopted by the GOP itself in its “autopsy” report after the 2012 election.

Yet here is what Brooks said in response: “This is a part of the war on whites that is being launched by the Democratic Party. And the way in which they’re launching this war is by claiming that whites hate everybody else. It’s a part of the strategy that Barack Obama implemented in 2008, continued in 2012, where he divides us all on race, on sex, greed, envy, class warfare, all those kinds of things.”

“A War on Whites.” Yet it’s President Obama who is guilty of racially inflammatory rhetoric?

Brooks’ words so alarmed Ingraham that she suggested his rhetoric was “a little out there.” This woman belches fire on all things conservative; for her to suggest you’ve gone too far is like Charlie Sheen telling you to cut back on hookers and cigarettes.

But Brooks doubled down, repeating the claim in an interview with a website, AL.com: “What the Democrats are doing with their dividing America by race is they are waging a war on whites and I find that repugnant.”

OK, so let’s say the obvious first. There’s something surreal and absurd about this lecture, coming as it does from a member of the party that invented the Southern strategy and birtherism and whose voters were last seen standing at the border screaming at terrified Guatemalan kids.

But it’s not the ridiculousness of Brooks’ words that should be of greatest concern. You see, Fournier is right. If something does not arrest its present trajectory, the GOP seems destined to shrink into a regional party with appeal only to older white voters. It will be irrelevant in a nation where white voters will soon cease to be a majority — no group will be a majority — and appeals to racial and cultural resentments have less power to sway elections.

That should concern the GOP brain trust. It should concern us all. As a practical matter, this country has only two political parties; if one ceases to be competitive, we become a de facto single party system. That is not democracy. No ideology has a monopoly on good ideas. So America needs a healthy Republican Party.

Yet for every Rand Paul trying — albeit in a fumbling and deeply flawed manner — to reach constituencies the party has written off and driven off, or to engage on issues it has disregarded, there seem to be five Mo Brookses doubling down on the politics of resentment and fear.

His party needs to realize once and for all that that day is done. It is critical for the GOP to wean itself from the cowardly belief that simply to discuss race and culture, to acknowledge disparity in treatment and outcomes, to put forward ways of addressing those things, constitutes “playing the race card” or “race baiting” or fighting a “war on whites.”

That idea was always wrongheaded and dumb. Very soon it will become electorally untenable as well. So the GOP must learn to speak a language it has shunned to people it has ignored.

Because its biggest threat is not the Democratic Party but demographic reality. And right now, that reality is winning, hands down.

(Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, FL, 33132. Readers may contact him via email at lpitts@miamiherald.com.)

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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Many Democrats are getting nervous about the upcoming presidential election. Ominous, extensively reported articles by two of the best in the business—the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin and The Atlantic's Barton Gellman—outline Boss Trump's plot to keep control of the White House in 2021 no matter how the American people vote.
Trump is hardly making a secret of it. He's pointedly refused to commit to "a peaceful transfer of power."

"Well, we're going to have to see what happens," is how he answered the question. He added that after we "get rid of the ballots"—presumably mail-in ballots he's been whining about for weeks--"there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation."

Of course, Trump himself has always voted by mail, but then brazen hypocrisy is his standard operating mode. If you haven't noticed, he also lies a lot. Without prevaricating, boasting, and bitching, he'd be mute. And even then, he'd still have Twitter. He recently tweeted that the winner "may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED" because mail-in ballots make it a "RIGGED ELECTION in waiting."
Gellman gets this part exactly right in The Atlantic: "Let us not hedge about one thing. Donald Trump may win or lose, but he will never concede. Not under any circumstance. Not during the Interregnum and not afterward. If compelled in the end to vacate his office, Trump will insist from exile, as long as he draws breath, that the contest was rigged.
"Trump's invincible commitment to this stance will be the most important fact about the coming Interregnum. It will deform the proceedings from beginning to end. We have not experienced anything like it before."
No, we haven't. However, it's important to remember that Trump makes threats and promises almost daily that never happen. Remember that gigantic border wall Mexico was going to pay for? Trump has built exactly five miles of the fool thing, leaving roughly two thousand to go.
His brilliant cheaper, better health care plan? Non-existent.
On Labor Day, Boss Trump boasted of his unparalleled success in strong-arming Japan into building new auto-manufacturing plants. "They're being built in Ohio, they're being built in South Carolina, North Carolina, they're being built all over and expanded at a level that we've never seen before."
Not a word of that is true. Two new plants, one German, another Swedish have opened in South Carolina, but construction began before Trump took office. Auto industry investment during Barack Obama's second term far exceeded Trump's. His version is sheer make-believe.
But back to the GOP scheme to steal the election.
First, it's clear that even Trump understands that he has virtually no chance of winning the national popular vote. He's been polling in the low 40s, with no sign of change. To have any chance of prevailing in the Electoral College, he's got to do the electoral equivalent of drawing to an inside straight all over again—winning a half-dozen so-called battleground states where he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 by the narrowest of margins.
At this writing, that looks highly unlikely. The latest polling in must-win Pennsylvania, for example, shows Trump trailing Joe Biden by nine points. That's a landslide. Trump's down ten in Wisconsin, eight in Michigan. And so on.
So spare me the screeching emails in ALL CAPS, OK? Polls were actually quite accurate in 2016. Trump narrowly defeated the odds. It can happen. But he's in far worse shape this time. Furthermore, early voting turnout is very high, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans two to one.
Hence, The Atlantic reports, "Trump's state and national legal teams are already laying the groundwork for post-election maneuvers that would circumvent the results of the vote count in battleground states."
The plan is clear. Because more Democrats than Republicans are choosing mail-in voting during the COVID pandemic, Trump hopes to prevent those ballots from being counted. Assuming he'll have a narrow "swing state" lead on election night, he'll declare victory and start filing lawsuits. "The red mirage," some Democrats call it.
"As a result," Toobin writes, "the aftermath of the 2020 election has the potential to make 2000 look like a mere skirmish." With Trump in the White House urging armed militias to take to the street.
Mail-in votes take a long time to count. Things could definitely get crazy.
True, but filing a lawsuit to halt a Florida recount was one thing. Filing suits against a half dozen states to prevent votes from being counted at all is quite another. Public reaction would be strong. Also, winning such lawsuits requires serious evidence of fraud. Trumpian bluster ain't evidence.
The Atlantic reports that GOP-controlled state legislatures are thinking about sending Trumpist delegations to the Electoral College regardless of the popular vote winner—theoretically constitutional but currently illegal.
Fat chance. If that's the best they've got, they've got nothing.
Anyway, here's the answer: Vote early, and in person*.

[Editor's note: In some states, receiving an absentee ballot means that a voter can no longer vote in person* or may have to surrender the absentee ballot, including the envelope in which it arrived, at their polling place. Please check with your local election authorities.]