Republican politicians are showing no signs of slowing down in their attempts to use race to divide the country:
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Chris McDaniel was booed by a live MSNBC audience on Friday after he said African-Americans from his home state of Mississippi should stop “begging for federal government scraps.”
The panelist, Eddie Glaude, also asked McDaniel how he would speak to African-Americans in Mississippi, who make up 38 percent of the state’s population and how he would convince them “you are not a danger to them.”
McDaniel responded: “I am going to ask them, after 100 years, after 100 years of relying on big government to save you, where are you today? After 100 years of begging for federal government scraps, where are you today?”
This is the Republican party in the age of Donald Trump. They used to be coy with how they tried to use race to divide. Now, they are up front about it.
When “President” Donald Trump approached the microphone far too many hours after white supremacists attempted to assert themselves by murdering 32 year-old paralegal Heather Heyer in cold blood in the streets of Charlottesville, VA, part of America watched in stunned disappointment as he addressed the situation with only vague platitudes. The “alt-right” – which has become coded language for white supremacists ranging from your casually racist cousin to literal Nazis and members of the Ku Klux Klan – on the other hand, watched with glee, with many of them flocking to praise Trump’s speech. Despite Trump’s dog-whistling that he was giving these domestic terrorists a free pass, they were still able to hear the message loud and clear.
The art of political dog-whistling is simultaneously complex and yet very simple. In short, it’s when someone’s speech has one understood meaning for the larger general audience, but also has a secondary meaning for a smaller subgroup. The whole idea of dog-whistling as a rhetorical strategy stems from actual dog-whistles, which sound at a frequency that only dogs, but not humans, can hear. It’s also nothing new – not historically and, as Vox points out, not even for Trump himself.
Take his inability to call his supporter, the infamous white nationalist David Duke, out for the bigot that he is, instead denying that he knew “anything about David Duke” when asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper, before reverting to meekly calling Duke a “bad person.” Or there’s the way he responded to white supremacists who embraced him in the immediate aftermath of the election, saying merely that he “[didn’t] want to energize the group.” And we can’t forget his entire campaign message of “America First” has a history of anti-Semitism and was basically a cloaked anti-immigrant and anti-POC platform.
This divisiveness needs to be punished by voters. It is being used to divide and conquer. Former President Lyndon B Johnson summed it up succinctly:
“If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”
That is exactly what Mississippi Senate candidate Chris McDaniel was trying to do by casting the aspersion upon African-Americans that they are beggars for government handouts. In reality: poverty, low wages, and unemployment are problems for all races, and this creates a need for government assistance for all races.
Medicaid had more than 70 million beneficiaries in 2016, of whom 43 percent were white, 18 percent black, and 30 percent Hispanic. Of 43 million food stamp recipients that year, 36.2 percent were white, 25.6 percent black, 17.2 percent Hispanic and 15.5 percent unknown.
Republican politicians are using race to divide, so that they can continue to get elected and enact policies that cut government assistance, and keep wages low by refusing to raise the minimum wage and gutting unions.
Enough is enough. It is not just one race who needs help from government. It is not just one race who needs a government that will promote policies that will increase wages. It is not just one race who needs a government that will stand up to corporations that profit from lower wages. It is all races.