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.