If you want to understand why Republicans and Trump supporters shrug off every accusation of racism against the president and the GOP, all you have to do is realize the long, sordid, vacuous history of Democrats calling the right racist over every major policy disagreement of the past 40 years.
From Ronald Reagan to George H.W. Bush, Newt Gingrich, George W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Donald Trump, the Tea Party, the NRA and Republicans everywhere, Democrats have played the race card to tattered, unrecognizable bits. They have all but destroyed the ability to even have a constructive conversation about race.
But in the process, they and their media allies have inoculated most all Republicans from the charge of racism. We all just brush it aside.
But for some even on the right, we forget the smothering extent to which Democrats have constantly used this trope for personal, short-term political gain. And most on the left will never, ever be exposed to the following list — which self-explains why Republicans give no heed to the accusation anymore. (So, dear reader, share it with your Democratic friends, with anyone!)
We really don’t need to go back to the history of Democrats being the party of slavery through Jim Crow, and opposing the Civil Rights Act in higher percentages than Republicans, although those are all true. Let’s just launch into the list starting in the 1980s to see just how bad the Democrats have been — even while pursuing policies that have demonstrably harmed black, brown and poor people.
President Ronald Reagan — Racist
Reagan was tarred as a racist on two primary counts. One was his reference to the Chicago “welfare queen” he used in his speeches to make the case for welfare reform. But as both the Washington Post and the New York Times documented, Linda Taylor was indeed that, with a Cadillac limousine and a plethora of luxuries that she obtained through welfare fraud — which was rampant in the 80s.
Reagan’s launch of the “war on drugs” was also considered racist because black people distributed drugs and partook of drugs at a higher rate than white people. They were also harmed by drugs at a higher percentage, but that would not fit the narrative. Therefore it was really a war on black people. President Bill Clinton expanded that war and Sen. Joe Biden was a leader in the Senate of expanding the criminal penalties. While Reagan was called racist for his launching of the war, Clinton and Biden (at the time, anyway) were not racist for expanding it. See how it works?
This lie continues to this day.
Richard Cohen, a partisan Democrat masquerading as a newspaper columnist, wrote recently at the Washington Post: “Republicans must acknowledge: The party has been taken over by a racist. The Trump of the weekend’s tweet binge was the culmination of a racist electoral strategy going back to Richard Nixon’s “Southern strategy” and Ronald Reagan’s aw-shucks indifference to civil rights.”
It’s not true, but it works in the category of a lie told often enough becomes the truth.
President George H.W. Bush — Racist
H.W. Bush was called racist for running the “infamous” Willie Horton ad in his 1988 campaign for president.
“Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) Wednesday branded President Bush ‘a racist’ who has ‘polarized the races in this country,’” the Los Angeles Times reported in 1992. Some things never change.
The New Yorker magazine wrote a typical summation of the elder Bush:
“In the 1988 Presidential race, when he defeated Michael Dukakis, his campaign, under the direction of Lee Atwater, pioneered many of the slash-and-burn tactics that disfigure modern elections. (The racist Willie Horton ad was but one of many misleading attacks that the Bush campaign launched.)”
Crime was at its highest rate in American history in 1988 and Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis was running a campaign of competent manager against Bush. But Dukakis had instituted a prison furlough program allowing dangerous criminals to get weekends out of prison. It was a disastrous program and his fellow Democrat in the primary, Al Gore, was the first to attack him on it.
But when the Bush campaign did so, using the picture of Willie Horton (not the great Detroit Tigers’ left fielder) who raped and murdered a woman while out on furlough, it was immediately labeled racist — and is to this day, according to Democrats and media, who are one and the same.
It’s worth remembering that Democrats now patronizingly hold up H.W. Bush as the very paragon of the decent Republican — because it is convenient to rewrite their history in order to make their attacks on Trump more believable.
House Speaker Newt Gingrich — Racist
Gingrich’s promise to voters, and efforts to keep those promises after Republicans won the House in 1994, turned out to be racist. The specific proposals that were racist were cutting taxes, pursuing welfare reform and pushing back the racial preference system Democrats had put in place. He and the GOP were branded the party of racists.
The New York Times attacked Gingrich for his “race-based, anger-charged politics” while comparing him to the infamous southern segregationist George Wallace — another trope that would become common fare for Democrats. New York Democratic congressman Charles Rangel attacked Republican tax cuts as pure race hatred. “It’s not ‘spic’ or ‘ni**er’ anymore,” Rangel growled.
Here’s a little roundup from City Journal on the overall reaction (note: the “worse than Hitler” bit):
“…attacks reached a fever pitch after Republicans won the House of Representatives in 1994. “What [conservative Republicans] want to do,” President Clinton said, “is make war on the kids of this country.” On NBC’s Today Show, to take another example, left-leaning host Bryant Gumbel asked liberal children’s advocate Marian Wright Edelman a classic leading question: “In light of the new welfare-reform bill, do you think the children need more prayers than ever before?” Former Democratic New York governor Mario Cuomo evoked the image of “Republican storm-troopers.” Another New York Democrat, Congressman Major Owens, went further: “These are the people,” he thundered, “who are practicing genocide with a smile: they’re worse than Hitler.”
Worse than Hitler. That was in the 1990s.
Now of course, the principles of limited government, tax cuts, minimal welfare tied to responsible actions and deregulation are standard conservative fare, and not rationally tied in any way to Nazism, Hitler or the Holocaust. But see how the exact same cards are played over and over.
President George W. Bush — Racist
W. Bush was a racist because of the allegedly slow response of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to Hurricane Katrina’s devastation in New Orleans, a majority black city. Of course, it couldn’t possibly be that the gears of the gigantic federal bureaucracy grind slowly and incompetently and that New Orleans’ well-known corruption and mismanagement left the city in terrible shape. No, it was Bush secretly slowing everything down specifically so more black people would die.
Bush wanted Congress to provide more money for border security as more than four million illegal immigrants came to the U.S. between 2000-2005 — the highest five-year period in our history. He committed 6,000 National Guard troops to the border to strengthen security.
But Bush also pushed for the Comprehensive Immigration Reform which included elements awfully close to full amnesty and was opposed by the vast majority of Republicans for legalizing millions of people who came here illegally. The conversative position is that the rule of law matters. Getting in line matters. Knowing who is in our country matters. But GOP opposition, which eventually killed the bill, was labeled racist by Democrats.
Here’s the left-leaning Brookings Institute’s take on opposition to immigration reform by Republicans. This was to the 2013 “reform,” but it mirrors 2007:
“It’s because House Republicans aren’t motivated by true conservatism. Rather, they represent constituencies haunted by anxiety associated with the perception that they’re “losing their country” to immigrants from south of the border. The Republican Party is 89 percent white, and 97 percent of Republican House districts in the 113th Congress have white majorities.”
Many Republicans were well into yawning at the charges of racism by this point. But so much more came before Trump entered the stage.
Sen. John McCain — Racist
It’s interesting how beloved McCain is today by Democrats and the media. Well he wasn’t while running for President in 2008. He was…a racist! (Among the other now-common range of name-calling.)
The New York Times accused McCain of “racially tinged attacks.”
The Hill reminded us at the time of McCain’s death that, “In August 2008, the New York Times editorial page described an official McCain ad as ‘racially tinged’ because it included a photo of Obama juxtaposed with Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. The message the campaign was sending: Obama, with little experience and media adulation, was much more sizzle than steak, a paparazzi-obsessed celebrity.”
Then, liberal journalist Ezra Klein accused McCain of “running crypto-racist ads.” NPR journalist Bill Press called McCain’s ads “deliberately and deceptively racist.” Don Lemon, now a CNN anchor, charged that the McCain campaign was “creating a political environment that is inciting hate and hate speech.”
Rep. John Lewis said McCain was “sowing the seeds of hatred and division” and said McCain’s rhetoric harkened back to segregationist George Wallace. Another Wallace comparison. Of McCain!
For good measure, Teen Vogue magazine called McCain “patently Islamaphobic” because of the threats he saw in Syrian of Islamic extremism — which ended up being right about.
So it’s worth remembering that the now beloved McCain, because before his death he hated Trump and opposed GOP conservatives, was called a racist by Democrats and their media when he was running for president as a Republican.
Gov. Mitt Romney — Racist
And then we have Romney, one of the nicest and most decent men ever to run for president, if a bit of a squish on actual conservative values and pretty unpopular now among Republicans.
The by-now very familiar refrain of the Democrats and their media was trotted out on schedule to label Romney a racist for wanting to repeal the financial regulation commonly referred to as Dodd-Frank — which has hamstrung community banks and startups and made the too big to fail even bigger.
It was none other than Vice President Joe Biden who told a heavily black audience in 2012 that Romney’s efforts were designed to “put y’all back in chains.” (Of course, this is why it’s such delicious justice that Biden gets attacked by Sen. Kamala Harris for being a racist.)
Romney pushed back after the comment by Biden, saying “this is what an angry and desperate presidency looks like.” Well naturally, that was racist!
U.S. News and World Report wrote at the time of Romney using the word “anger” twice, twice!
“You notice he said anger twice; he’s really trying to use racial coding and access some really deep stereotypes about the angry black man,” said Toure, an African-American co-host on MSNBC’s The Cycle, on Thursday. “This is part of the playbook against Obama, the ‘otherization,’ he’s not like us,” he continued. “I know it’s a heavy thing, I don’t say it lightly, but this is ‘niggerization.’ You are not one of us, you are like the scary black man who we’ve been trained to fear.”
Zerlina Maxwell, a Democratic strategist, said at the time that the Romney campaign was using race against Obama. “When you are ‘other-izing’ the first black president and saying he’s not one of us, you’re talking to a very specific segment of your base. But the danger is independents don’t like that. So he’s walking a fine line.”
Note the “other-izing” and racism had become a Democrat talking point against Romney when it was Biden who launched the race-baiting, and also that the natural state of Republicans is racist, but appealing to that could turn off independents. Now, predictably as we have seen, when Romney became a critic of Trump, all was forgotten by the media and Democrats and he was one of the good guys. Like McCain and even Bush.
All The Rest Of Us — Racists
Of course, it’s not just Republican presidents and presidential candidates. Democrat Rep. Hank Johnson said the NRA was racist for opposing Obama’s gun control proposals. Democrat Rep. Charlie Rangel, again, claimed the Tea Party was racist (it was literally founded on the huge bailouts and stimulus spending, wanting fiscal restraint and lower taxes. But that was racist.) Jesse Jackson stated that the Tea Party “should be called the “Fort Sumter Tea Party that sought to maintain states’ rights and slavery.”
When Republicans want borders that are secure, and people only coming legally, they are always portrayed by Democrats and the media as racist. Democrat Phil Ramos (D-NY), says that the word “illegal” is itself racist, a line that has since been picked up by others.
But when Sen. Obama, in 2005, said he opposed “undetected, undocumented, unchecked” immigration, there was nary a peep from the media and Democrats. Here’s Obama’s quote from that press conference:
“We all agree on the need to better secure the border and to punish employers who choose to hire illegal immigrants. We are a generous and welcoming people, here in the United States, but those who enter the country illegally, and those who employ them, disrespect the rule of law and they are showing disregard for those who are following the law. We simply cannot allow people to pour into the United States, undetected, undocumented, unchecked and circumventing the line of people who are waiting patiently, diligently and lawfully to become immigrants in this country.”
That sounds like not just the Republican position, but President Trump’s position. And in fact, it was said at a bi-partisan press conference made up of both Democrats and Republicans. But now that position is racist (well, if a Republican holds it.)
So when Donald Trump comes along, and the same old people — Democrats and the media — cry out that he is racist, Republicans basically yawn. It’s like they never read the story of the boy who cried wolf, or if they did their take away was something about white privilege or environmental destruction by meat-eaters.
We’re all just immune to the charge of racism.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham just puts it plainly in a recent tweet: “Something I have learned: If you are a Republican nominee for President — or President — you will be accused of being a racist.”
Yes, and this list makes that plain to see. But now it also extends to anyone who supports a Republican or Trump.
Rod Thomson is an author, past Salem radio host, ABC TV commentator, former journalist and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act.