The Republican embrace of the ‘great replacement’ theory | The report

No one was harder on Republicans’ lack of awareness of minority communities, and the party’s accompanying losses at the polls, than the GOP itself. In a brutally candid self-examination, the party concluded in 100 pages “autopsyof the 2012 election that he focused too much attention on white, Christian, and straight Americans, ignoring demographic shifts that threatened to render an unchanged GOP irrelevant.

“If Hispanic Americans hear that the GOP doesn’t want them in the United States, they won’t pay attention to our next sentence. No matter what we say about education, jobs, or the economy,” warned the 2013 report. “If Hispanics think we don’t want them here, they’ll turn a blind eye to our policies. Essentially, Hispanic voters are telling us that our party’s stance on immigration has become a litmus test, measuring whether we meet with a welcome mat or a closed door.”

Nine years later, the dialogue has taken a much uglier turn, with substantial numbers of Americans embracing the “great replacement” theory, the discredited argument that welcoming immigrant policies are a disguise for a plot to “replace” native-born (and usually white) Americans with minority groups. In its most extreme and violent form, the alternative grand conspiracy theory was cited by racist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 and in an online screed that authorities say was written by the shooter who killed 10 black people in a Buffalo supermarket last Saturday. .

The ‘great replacement’ is similar to the premise of 19th century ‘racial suicide’, the concern that Catholics coming from Ireland would overwhelm the Protestant population with higher birth rates, says Travis Foster, a professor at the ‘Villanova University, author of the book “Gender and White Supremacy in the Post-Emancipation United States.”

“It’s a different version of what we see today – this idea that the Democrats are going to open the border, and so it will lead to South and Central Americans becoming the dominant race in the United States,” said Foster.

A far cry from the racist “separate but equal” policies of the mid-20th century (which were endorsed by conservative Southern Democrats), proponents of the replacement theory don’t want separate lives for minorities, experts say. They want to completely exclude non-whites from the country.

Photos: Buffalo mourns the victims of the shooting

“They are ready to act against what they see as a threat to the white supremacist world, what they see as a traditional world,” he adds.

In Republican politics, the idea — if not the exact language — of the “great replacement” has been woven into campaigns against the Democrats.

Several GOP candidates have used the word “replace” when talking about immigration and demographic shifts, while elected officials have been more circumspect, warning of the threat of unchecked immigration while refusing to denounce, in particular, the concept of the “great replacement” theory.

JD Vance, the Republican Senate nominee from Ohio, told Fox News that Democrats “have decided that they cannot be reelected in 2022 unless they bring in a large number of new voters to replace voters who are already there”. In Arizona, GOP Senate candidate Blake Masters said Democrats want to increase immigration “to change the demographics of our country.” Republican Missouri State Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who is running for the Senate, also accused Democrats of “fundamentally trying to change the country” through immigration.

These remarks were all made before the shooting in Buffalo.

Since the attack at the Tops supermarket in a heavily black Buffalo neighborhood, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has been asked by Capitol Hill reporters if he was speaking out against the theory. McConnell condemned racism in general and called the shooter a “deranged young man”, but refused to explicitly dismiss the concept of a “great replacement”.

Rep. Elise Stefanik, a Republican from New York who is on the GOP House leadership team, also came under fire for buying Facebook ads accusing Democrats of encouraging illegal immigration to ‘upset our electorate. current”.

Representative Elise Stefanik, center, speaks to reporters near the US-Mexico border as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and others look on.Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/Getty Images)

The advertisements and comments do not call for any violence and do not specifically refer to the “great replacement”. But it taps into fear of immigrants and “others,” political analysts and social scientists say, running completely counter to the GOP’s own course-correcting document.

“It’s so much easier to get people to identify with who they are not than who they are – pointing fingers at others and saying, ‘We don’t want to be them’ is the easiest thing to do,” said the Republican. strategist Rick Tyler, who served as communications director for Senator Ted Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign.

But that strategy is ultimately doomed for the GOP, Tyler notes.

“The irony is that the whole idea of ​​replacement theory is that other groups will treat you as badly as you treated them when they’re in the majority,” he says.

Echoing the big replacement themes “doesn’t make political sense. It’s just pure racism, that’s all. It’s fear of loss of identity, loss of privilege, fear of loss of dominance. It’s incredibly un-American,” says Republican consultant Mike Madrid, who is working on a book on the Latinization of America.

Republicans are appealing to this part of the electorate – aggrieved white voters who feel subsumed by other cultures and races – “because it works. It works,” Madrid says, referring to Donald Trump’s election in 2016 and the success of like-minded Republicans in some primaries this year.

A AP/NORC poll earlier this month, 32% of adults believe a group of people are trying to replace native Americans with immigrants for election gains. This group is more likely to believe in conspiracy theories, NORC spokeswoman Jennifer Benz said, and this group is also more likely to get its information from right-wing sources.

On paper, directing a political message to exploit the fears of a group of white voters doesn’t add up. The country should become majority-minority by 2044, the Census Bureau projectsand — as the GOP autopsy revealed — a party that fails to adapt to these demographic shifts will lose.

In the long run, the GOP risks alienating the groups of voters it will need to win the election, Tyler says. But for now, whipping that element of the blank vote — increasing turnout in key races — can make a short-term difference.

GOP candidates “can win elections by making people realize who they are not,” Tyler says. “The answer is always the same,” he says. “It’s (what works) this cycle.”

Future election cycles will almost certainly include more voters of color. But for now, it’s the Democrats who look set to be replaced this fall — by Republicans.

About Harold Hartman

Check Also

Invest in courageous and progressive journalism

The fight for democracy persists as we enter the second half of 2022. As the …