Since the Democrats gained control of Congress in January of 2021, they have squandered their tenuous grip on power by engaging in profligate spending, performative investigations and abortive attempts to federalize state elections. The resultant paucity of legislative achievements, combined with a long list of Biden administration blunders, has given the GOP a realistic chance to win majorities in the House and Senate this November. Inevitably, this means “Republican racism” will be a central theme of the Democratic midterm campaign. Indeed, they have already crafted a narrative to explain the GOP’s alleged affinity for white supremacy — the “great replacement” theory.
This is a cynical attempt to exploit the recent mass murder in Buffalo by associating Republicans with cherry-picked passages from the killer’s 180-page manifesto, which includes several oblique references to the theory. The irony of this narrative is that, like most political theses based on shifting demographics and group identity, replacement theory has long been identified with the left. The most obvious example is the 2002 book, The Emerging Democratic Majority, by Ruy Teixeira and John B. Judis. They argued that a variety of social and demographic changes — including the growth of nonwhite communities as a percentage of the electorate — offered the Democrats an opportunity to dominate American politics.
That this never happened is due to what Teixeira calls “the bowdlerization” of his thesis. As he wrote in 2020, “Democratic pundits, operatives and elected officials have falsely come to believe that demographics are destiny.” Teixeira goes on to point out that this misreading led directly to the most shocking upset endured by the Democrats so far this century: “The apotheosis of this attitude was Hillary Clinton’s infamous statement that half of Trump’s supporters belonged in a ‘basket of deplorables’.” Incredibly, the Democrats and the media are about to commit the very same blunder by insisting that racism is a mainstream Republican value. Writing in the Atlantic, Adam Serwer sums up the party line as follows:
The conspiracy theory of a Great Replacement is now part of the Republican mainstream.… During the Trump administration, conservative elites could distance themselves from Trump as individuals while still supporting his policies. But now that so many important Republicans have embraced the idea, the conservative elite must find a way to make the sanitized version of this genocidal nonsense respectable. A strain of self-implicating paranoia underlies the entire concept, the fear that once they are a minority, white people will be subject to revenge for the dark chapters of American history.
That most of the “dark chapters of American history” were authored by the Democratic Party has escaped Serwer. Slavery, Jim Crow and segregation were perpetrated by and for the Democrats. The charge that Republicans subscribe to the great replacement theory is based on the notion that opposition to illegal immigration must be grounded in white supremacy and fear of the other. This is how the Washington Post manages to brand Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) as an adherent to the theory: “While Stefanik has not pushed the theory by name, she and other conservatives have echoed the tenets of the far-right ideology as part of anti-immigrant rhetoric that has fired up the Republican base ahead of the midterm elections.”
Note that Stefanik is somehow guilty of promulgating replacement theory, despite never having uttered the term. But don’t expect mere facts to curb the character assassination. On MSNBC, Democratic “branding expert” Donny Deutsch explained why this smear campaign is necessary and how it can be used to deceive the voters: “We don’t have the economy on our side as Democrats. So you have to scare the bejesus out of people.” He then advises that the best way to thus frighten voters is to brand the GOP as the racist replacement party. This advice explicitly admits that the Democrats have nothing to offer but fear. It is not a coincidence that our president used several variations of “replace” during his recent Buffalo speech:
What happened here is simple and straightforward: terrorism. Terrorism. Domestic terrorism. Violence inflicted in the service of hate and a vicious thirst for power that defines one group of people being inherently inferior to any other group. A hate that through the media and politics, the Internet, has radicalized angry, alienated, lost, and isolated individuals into falsely believing that they will be replaced — that’s the word, “replaced” — by the “other” — by people who don’t look like them.… I call on all Americans to reject the lie. And I condemn those who spread the lie for power, political gain, and for profit.
That last line is, of course, a transparent attempt to tie Republicans and conservative media outlets like Fox to racist violence. The same tactic is being used by Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who insinuates that replacement theory is integral to the GOP belief system. She even manages to connect it to the Jan. 6 “insurrection.” The Hill reports, “Pelosi on Thursday, during remarks from the steps of the Capitol, tied the conspiracy to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, saying the riot ‘had the same racist elements to it and replacement theory background to it.’” She also claimed the theory “is promoted on top television networks.” It’s a pretty good bet that Pelosi wasn’t referring to MSNBC or CNN.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) sent a letter to Rupert Murdoch and other Fox News executives claiming the network is engaged in the “reckless amplification of the so-called ‘Great Replacement’ theory.” The New York Times posted a copy. It predictably denounces Tucker Carlson and insinuates that Fox is culpable for several mass shootings, including the Buffalo murders. It concludes as follows: “I implore you to immediately cease all dissemination of false white nationalist, far-right conspiracy theories on your network.” It evidently never occurred to Schumer that his missive does considerable violence to the spirit of the First Amendment as it relates to freedom of the press.
But such is the nature of desperation. The Democrats control Congress and the White House yet have accomplished virtually nothing. Nor do they have credible plans to solve any of the issues the voters care about. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found that Americans see inflation as the number one problem facing the country. Racism is way down at number nine. If the Democratic Party had competent leadership, they would shut up about the great replacement theory and produce plausible plans to solve real problems. But the Party of Jefferson and Jackson is intellectually and morally bankrupt. So, its “leaders” cast desperately about for some false narrative to foist on the public — again. It won’t work this time.