Once upon a time in United States history, the expression “racist Democratic Party” would have been considered redundant, because it was a given that the Democratic Party was a bastion of racism.
After all, back during the antebellum period of the 19th Century, it was the Democratic Party that resisted the end to slavery, that during the 20th Century, resisted civil rights legislation that would give equal rights to minorities, that resisted desegregation (with President Truman being an exception).
Yet, the Democratic Party managed to reinvent itself in a way that made it attractive to minority voters. Whereas the Republican Party promoted conservative values as being helpful to all Americans, the Democratic Party claimed that its liberal values did more good for minorities.
So, what happens when minority politicians don’t believe the latter claim? Answer: They get a taste of the racism that lies under the surface of the Democratic Party.
In a column published by The Daily Beast, Peter Beinart explains the reason for the growth of racism within the Democratic Party:
If Dick Harpootlian were a Republican, liberals would be jumping over one another to call him a bigot. In 2002 Harpootlian called Lindsey Graham, then running for a South Carolina Senate seat, “light in the loafers,” thus fueling a nasty whispering campaign about Graham’s sexual orientation. Last Friday he struck again, telling activists to “send Nikki Haley”—South Carolina’s Indian-American governor—“back to wherever the hell she came from.”
But Harpootlian isn’t a Republican. Until he retired last Saturday, he was chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party. He made his comments about Haley at the party’s annual dinner, just before Joe Biden took the stage. And as a result, the liberal response has been muted. So far, neither Biden nor Elizabeth Colbert-Busch, whose candidacy for a South Carolina congressional seat has gained national attention, has repudiated Harpootlian’s comments. And for now, at least, conservatives are just about the only ones asking them to.
That’s a problem, because unless offenses like Harpootlian’s are slapped down hard, Democratic Party bigotry is likely to get worse. The reason is simple: the Republican Party is getting more diverse. Stung by its disastrous electoral showings among Americans who are neither white, Anglo, straight, nor male, the GOP has finally begun to broaden its candidate base. The party now boasts an African-American senator from South Carolina, Cuban-American senators from Florida and Texas, Indian-American governors in South Carolina and Louisiana, and Mexican-American governors in Nevada and New Mexico. In all likelihood, 2016 will witness the first-ever serious minority candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination. And it’s a good bet that either a minority or a woman will find a place on the Republican ticket. Prominent openly gay Republican politicians are only a matter of time.
In an open letter to Republican Senatorial candidate Gabriel Gomez, political commentator Jennifer C. Braceras says the following:
Congratulations, Gabriel Gomez. You just earned yourself a spot on top of the Democratic National Committee’s hit list.
It’s not just because you’re the Republican nominee for Senate. Or because you’re a Washington outsider who threatens to prevent lifelong political hack Ed Markey from becoming “Senator for life.”
It’s not even because you’re a Boston Marathon-running, former Navy SEAL who exudes the kind of patriotism that embarrasses many liberals today.
No. The real reason Democrats regard you as public enemy No. 1 can be summed up in two words: Republican Latino.
You’re new to politics, so I’ll be blunt. Democrats may dislike Republicans, but they despise Republican minorities.
The simple reason is, of course, electoral. Crucial to Democratic success is a trifecta of subgroups: minorities (including Latinos), young people, and women. This coalition has been described as a three-legged stool. A Republican who can even begin to crack one of the legs can potentially knock the stool over.
The latest minority politician to feel the wrath of the Democratic Party is U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). During an interview on the ABC News program “This Week”, former governor Bill Richardson (D-NM) attacked Senator Cruz’s ethnicity by saying that the Senator shouldn’t be defined as a Hispanic. Here is an excerpt from that interview:
Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson joined ABC News for a web interview after his appearance on the “This Week” roundtable on Sunday, answering viewer questions about his time as governor, his experience meeting with the Taliban, and his thoughts on Korean ruler Kim Jong-Un. When asked about Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Richardson expressed his distaste for the senator.
“I’m not a fan. I know [Ted Cruz is] sort of the Republican latest flavor. He’s articulate. He seems to be charismatic, but I don’t like his politics. I think he introduces a measure of incivility in the political process. Insulting people is not the way to go. But I guess he’s a force in the Republican political system, but I’m not a fan.”
ABC News: Do you think he represents most Hispanics with his politics?
“No, no. He’s anti-immigration. Almost every Hispanic in the country wants to see immigration reform. No, I don’t think he should be defined as a Hispanic.
Now, Gov. Richardson is back-peddling, claiming that he didn’t mean what he said about Sen. Cruz not being a Hispanic.
Perhaps the expression “racist Democratic Party” isn’t as redundant as it was a century ago, but it certainly isn’t an oxymoron, as minority politicians in the Republican Party are finding out.