It's Not Don Young's Comments, It's His Party

Yesterday, Congressman Don Young, Republican of Alaska, got into hot water for bragging about how his family used to hire "wetbacks" to pick tomatoes in their ranch. The use of a derogatory term to describe undocumented workers from Mexico by a prominent Republican Congressman seems to have surprised the media, while Republicans are running like mad to condemn his comments. My question is, why the surprise? Why is everyone surprised that a prominent elected representative of the White Nationalists, I mean the Republican party, would have a Freudian slip?

I mean, I understand that the Republican powers that be are busy trying to put lipstick on their pigs. I understand why the Republicans are busy trying to convince everyone that they are not every bit the party of racists as they are. But why is the rest of the media buying this dog and pony show?

Here are the facts: just last year, Republicans openly bragged about their strategy to win the election by winning 60% of the white vote. They even "unskewed" public polls to fit their fantasy. Prominent candidates for president for their party demanded that inner-city (read: black) children scrub their school bathrooms, called the first African American president a "food stamp president," told their mobs that they didn't want to give "other people's money" to "blaw" people, and of course, famously advocated for self-deportation.

This is the party that seeks votes from the likes of the "Joe the Plumbers" who believe the government is giving their money to lazy minorities, like the ones who portray the president as an African witch doctor with a bone through his nose, and those who spit on and use racial slurs on Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights icon in his own right. This is the party that scours out voters like those that show up to a presidential event packing heat. This is the party whose mouthpieces defend the murder of a black 17-year old shot in cold blood, because, you know, he was wearing a hoodie.

This is the party whose base still believes that Barack Obama is a Kenyan Muslim, whose media figures chalk up the president's thumping election victory to people who "want stuff," and whose leaders are still trying to restrict the right to vote for minorities at the state level. This is a party that routinely counts on winning elections by scapegoating blacks, Latinos, Native Americans Asians, LGBT Americans, and women. This is a party whose Congressional membership managed to oppose the Violence Against Women Act on the grounds that the First Americans' reservations may not be able to give a fair trial to white rapists. So why suddenly the shock?

The history of racism in the modern Republican party is deep, entrenched and abiding. Fronting a Clarence Thomas or a Marco Rubio does not make up for the sins of a party whose current history is laden with things from the Southern Strategy to harboring anti-immigrant feelings to dog whistles that have become full out blow horns. The nativist, white nationalist chasing in the Republican party has gone on for ages, and it hasn't stopped. For too long, the Republican party has thrived on their divide and conquer strategy. In fact, it has used the fear of the loss of white privilege as an electoral tool for so long that it doesn't know what else to do, now that it doesn't suffice anymore, at least not for national elections.

This isn't a party in need of new messaging. This is a party in need of a new soul. The Republican party will not be able to shed the bigoted language from its public image, unless it can shed the bigots who make up its ranks.


Like what you read? Chip in, keep us going.