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When 'America First' Is A Ticket To Last Place

It came and went in a second, in political time, a proposed idea that proved too racist for the politician reportedly behind it. But an "America First" caucus that was disavowed, sort of, by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and several of her Republican colleagues who at first seemed ready to sign up should be treated as more than a ridiculous sideshow.

The notions that fueled a "draft" stating the group's principles have lingered, becoming part of a conversation that's becoming a little less shocking and a lot more routine.

That's one takeaway from Greene's enormous fundraising haul, despite her lack of House committee assignments and useful endeavors. Even though the Georgia Republican backed away when the caucus's endorsement of "Anglo-Saxon political traditions" leaked out, the very idea seemed to excite some GOP lawmakers and ignite a constituency that is larger than many "real" Americans would like to admit.

You know, the real American citizens of every race, creed, color, orientation, and national origin, who believe in the ideals of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence without reservation, despite the country's history of both triumphs and failures on that score. They are the Americans not surprised, but still disappointed that too many of their neighbors, co-workers, and elected representatives are willing to toss democracy if that's what it takes to hold on to the power they perceive to be slipping away, and justify it all with a sense of superiority — cultural and otherwise.

Exhibits A, B, C, Etc.

As if to prove the point that extreme views are cozily at home in today's GOP, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has so far refused to renounce his association with a Tea Party group that became the True Texas Project. Not long after a man who had posted a hate-filled screed against Hispanics fatally shot 23 people at a Walmart in El Paso, one of the group's leaders posted on Facebook: "You're not going to demographically replace a once proud, strong people without getting blow-back." Are Texans in that city somehow less deserving of protection and representation, or mere consideration, by its senator?

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) is shocked, SHOCKED, that anyone would associate him with the "America First" caucus scheme, though he used that phrase in his keynote speech at an America First Political Action Conference in February. If you can judge a person by the company he keeps, the conference was organized by someone who said, "White people are done being bullied," and who had spoken approvingly of the crowd that stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Also making an appearance was former Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who once wondered what was so terrible about phrases such as "white nationalist, white supremacist, and Western civilization." Tellingly, none of Gosar's Arizona colleagues had much to say.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R_FL) tweeted that he was "proud to join" Greene in the "#AmericaFirst Caucus." Things must be really bad for him when he sees an "Anglo Saxon" caucus dripping in nativist rhetoric as a distraction and a step up.

When Greene's trademark bravado was cowed by rebukes from others in the GOP, she blamed the usual suspects, saying she had not seen the "staff-level draft proposal from an outside group" and mumbling something about the media taking it out of context. Now, she is off to her latest adventure that has little to do with her Georgia constituents, publicizing a planned appearance at a "Back the Blue and Freedom Rally" in Columbus, Ohio, a community trying to sort out the details and the fallout from the police shooting of 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant.

It's not exactly what a volatile situation needs, but then, you can't keep an angry woman down, and to borrow a reference from Marvel's Hulk, that woman is "always angry."

'Starts With The Art'

But the discarded "America First" draft, published by Punchbowl News, is too rich and detailed to let disappear in the haze of an accelerated news cycle. It covered everything from tech to trade and even architecture, promoting "infrastructure that reflects the architectural, engineering, and aesthetic value that befits the progeny of European architecture."

Whew! That reminds me of an exhibit I visited several years ago at the Neue Galerie New York, "Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937," noting what was purged in the name of German purity. New York Times critic Holland Cotter said it addressed, on a large scale, "the Nazis' selective demonizing of art, how that helped foment an atmosphere of permissible hatred and forged a link between aesthetics and human disaster."

I am not one to compare everything to Hitler, but as I viewed the vibrant, modern work that Hitler denigrated, displayed next to the pieces he approved as representative of German culture, I thought, "It starts with the art."

The draft — dare I call it a "white paper"? — called for "a certain intellectual boldness" to "follow in President Trump's footsteps, and potentially step on some toes." Nowhere does it mention that those toes might belong to Donald Trump if anyone dare shows the "intellectual boldness," much less the honesty, to admit the former president lost the 2020 election. He's still spouting nonsense about a "stolen" election, and not one of these bold individuals is telling the emperor of Mar-a-Lago that he'd better grab an overcoat.

In fact, none of the above politicians has yet passed the test of recognizing that Joseph R. Biden, Jr. won a free and fair presidential election. Instead they voted, after the attack on the Capitol, not to certify his win.

Can any doctrine lay claim to integrity when it starts with a lie and treats democracy that recognizes the worth of all Americans as something to be quashed?

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who craved some credit for rejecting the "America First" idea, has been running toward Trump before and since. McCarthy, who is salivating at the thought of becoming speaker in 2023, has stalled on the formation of a narrowly focused 9/11-style commission to get to the bottom of the January 6 insurrection. By wanting to include Black Lives Matter in any investigation, he is equating rioters looking to overthrow democracy with protesters asking law enforcement to protect and serve all Americans, even as the headlines regularly validate their cause.

It's as though there is a multipart GOP plan for success: Tighten the rules for voters who hold different beliefs and pass laws to punish marchers for racial justice while quibbling over examining the January insurrection fueled by Republicans' own election falsehoods and yelling the once-quiet part through a bullhorn — or in a leaked manifesto.

Mary C. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Charlotte Observer, as national correspondent for Politics Daily, and is a senior facilitator with The OpEd Project. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3.

VIDEO: Republicans Drop Dog Whistles For White Nationalist Bullhorn

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Just as soon as potential plans for the House GOP's breakaway "America First Caucus" became public last week, House Republicans quickly tried to distance themselves from it.

An early draft of the caucus platform, reportedly the brainchild of extremist Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona, included a call for respecting "Anglo-Saxon political traditions." In part, it read, "History has shown that societal trust and political unity are threatened when foreign citizens are imported en-masse into a country."

The inherently racist notion that immigrants are being "imported en-masse" has roots in white nationalist "replacement theory"—a sick new fascination among Republicans. The idea is that white people are being replaced by non-white people to the point of eventual extinction. But Republicans have added a political twist, framing it as a matter of political power.

"I have less political power because (Democrats) are importing a brand-new electorate," Fox News' Tucker Carlson theorized on Fox News earlier this month. "The power that I have as an American, guaranteed at birth, is one man, one vote, and they are diluting it."

Wherever there are references to "importing" people and "diluting" political power these days, Republicans are surely at hand, appealing to the basest and most abhorrent beliefs of their increasingly racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic base.

But full-on embracing the core principles of neo-Nazis and white nationalists just might have political consequences for Republicans. While the GOP's hard-right lunge clearly sells to an increasing share of the party's faithful, it also stands a chance of alienating some of its most reliable voters in non-presidential elections in the suburbs.

That's likely why House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy quickly sought to distance the party from the nascent plans for the "Anglo Saxon" First caucus.

"America is built on the idea that we are all created equal and success is earned through honest, hard work. It isn't built on identity, race, or religion," McCarthy, a California Republican, tweeted late on April 16. "The Republican Party is the party of Lincoln & the party of more opportunity for all Americans—not nativist dog whistles."

Even Rep. Greene claimed she was the unwitting victim of a "staff level draft proposal from an outside group" that she hadn't even read. "The scum and liars in the media are calling me a racist by taking something out of context," Greene wrote in a tweet last weekend. Nothing but class.

But the fact of the matter is that Trump-era Republicans have entirely embraced nativist dog whistle politics for the last four years, and now they are following that political strain straight to the well of white supremacy.

In fact, the House Republican campaign arm and the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF) super PAC—both closely associated with McCarthy—have made the promotion of nativist imagery and stereotypes central to their campaign messaging over the last couple election cycles. In response to McCarthy's "party of Lincoln" tweet, the pro-immigration group America's Voice compiled a montage of ads from the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and CLF that expose the GOP's overt effort to employ racist themes as a way of stoking fear in white Americans.

Republican Ads Reveal a Party that Relies on Nativist Dog-Whistles www.youtube.com

In 2020, ads from the two groups repeatedly employed racist stereotypes, accusing Democratic candidates of wanting to create a "sanctuary jurisdiction, even for criminals," voting to "protect illegal immigrant gang members," and supporting "providing safe havens for illegals."

More recently, Republicans have been capitalizing on the recent increase of migrant crossings at the border, a spike that's actually completely consistent with seasonal changes in undocumented immigration and a pandemic-generated backlog. But Republicans are eager to blame the rise on Democratic policies.

In a Fox News appearance on March 4, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina warned, "They're children today but they could easily be terrorists tomorrow." And on March 9, GOP Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana baselessly hyped the notion that undocumented immigrants are bringing COVID-19 to the U.S. "There are superspreader caravans coming across our southern border," Scalise charged at a press conference where House Republicans sought to portray a crisis at the border. Of course, Republicans are simultaneously opposing the Biden administration's efforts to vaccinate undocumented immigrants.

But the next phase of the GOP's nativist push is a full-blown embrace of white supremacy. After Fox's Carlson devoted his April 8 primetime show to delivering an impassioned defense of the racist "replacement theory," Republicans followed up with a robust fundraising campaign, according to Peter Montgomery at Right Wing Watch.

On April 9, the Republican National Committee sent a fundraising text to its members that opened with, "Are you watching Tucker Carlson right now?" That must have gone well because on April 14, the RNC blasted out a fundraising email with the subject line, "Do you watch Tucker Carlson? He's absolutely right." On April 16, the RNC sent another email warning that Chelsea Clinton was "openly calling on Facebook to SILENCE Tucker Carlson" and asking for support to "help stop the left from censoring conservatives like Tucker Carlson." The Tucker Carlson solicitations are apparently a cash cow because the RNC is continuing to feature him.

What this tells us is that the GOP's most active base of grassroots supporters is eating up Carlson's promotion of neo-Nazi dogma and, not surprisingly, so are the white nationalists. The white nationalist site VDare has been cheering Carlson's recent monologues as among "the best things Fox News has ever aired," and "filled with ideas and talking points VDARE.com pioneered many years ago."

In a way, McCarthy may be right—Republicans have clearly dropped the dog whistle portion of their nativist appeals. Now they're just going for broke with an overt embrace of white nationalists and neo-Nazis.

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Greene Drops Plan For ‘America First’ Caucus After Backlash

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) said she is not recruiting members for the so-called "America First Caucus," after members of Congress from both sides of the aisle condemned the caucus's overtly racist and white supremacist platform.

A spokesperson for Greene, Nick Dyer, told CNN on Sunday that Greene was "not launching anything," and even tried to distance the Georgia Republican from the offensive rhetoric in the caucus platform that Greene had been sending around.

Dyer told CNN that Greene "didn't approve that language and has no plans to launch anything."

It's a clear reversal from Greene's comments on Friday, when Dyer told reporters that Greene would be launching the caucus "very soon," after Punchbowl News first obtained the caucus platform.

And after the racist platform for the group was leaked, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) quickly said he was "proud to join @mtgreenee in the #AmericaFirst Caucus."

But the backlash to the caucus — which espoused the white supremacist "Great Replacement" theory that says non-white immigrants pose a threat to the white race — was swift.

Democratic members of Congress did not mince words.

"The Civil War is over and the racists lost. But some House Republicans are still fighting the battle. That's what the so-called America First Caucus is all about," Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), chair of the House Democratic Caucus, tweeted on Saturday.

"A more accurate name for new organization of House Republicans led by Marjorie Taylor Greene would be the White Supremacist Caucus," Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) tweeted on Friday.

Even Republicans condemned the effort.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy — who once said Greene made the House Republican conference "diverse" and the country should give her an "opportunity" — condemned her group shortly after news of its existence broke.

McCarthy tweeted on Friday: "America is built on the idea that we are all created equal and success is earned through honest, hard work. It isn't built on identity, race, or religion. The Republican Party is the party of Lincoln & the party of more opportunity for all Americans — not nativist dog whistles."

Meanwhile, Rep. Barry Moore (R-AL), one of the Republicans who Punchbowl News reported had agreed to join the caucus, also distanced himself.

"I fully support President Trump's America First agenda & policies that prioritize hardworking Americans. But I will not agree to join any caucus until I've had an opportunity to research their platform — which I haven't done with the AmericaFirst Caucus & therefore haven't joined," Moore tweeted on Saturday.

Greene's apparently failed attempt at launching a white supremacist caucus within the House is just the latest in a string of problems she's caused her party since she first came to Congress in January.

Greene was kicked off her House committees in February after news surfaced that she had "liked" violent threats against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on social media.

Greene has also slowed down House business by forcing pointless votes to end House business in order to try to delay passage of bills, including the coronavirus relief package.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.