Steve Israel, Democratic congressman of New York and chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told CNN’s “State of the Union” that “to a significant extent, the Republican base does have elements that are animated by racism. And that’s unfortunate.”
Israel has not been the only high ranking Democrat to call out the Republican Party on racism. “I think race has something to do with the fact that they’re not bringing up an immigration bill,” Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told ABC News, “I’ve heard them say to the Irish, if it were just you, this would be easy.”
Republican Greg Walden was quick to deny the accusations, calling them “both wrong and unfortunate,” according to the Associated Press.
Despite Walden’s denial, racism remains an ugly topic for GOP lawmakers. Michael Tomasky of the Daily Beast pointed out how many Fox News articles are plagued with racist comments made in the support of Republican policy. “Now I don’t know if the people making these comments and the larger group they represent constitute 5 percent of this base or 15 or 50. It depends in part on how you define ‘base,'” Tomasky wrote, “But look at the matter this way. Say you were a Republican political consultant. Would you ever in a jillion years suggest that your candidate take on racism within the GOP as a speech topic? You most certainly would not. Your candidate would be dead immediately.”
One use of race in Democrats’ rhetoric may be due to anticipation of midterm elections this fall. “Very risky to accuse the GOP of outright, overt racism,” an anonymous Democratic strategist told the Washington Post, “midterms are about motivating your base, so perhaps that is what’s going on. I think more Democrats should take their cues from President Obama, who to my knowledge has never accused his opponents of being racially motivated.”
According to the Washington Post, Democrats face an uphill battle in the polls. They speculated that a house changeover would be unlikely and asserted that several senate seats held by Democrats remain vulnerable.
“There are still deep elements of racism in this country, and that element has indeed energized the GOP rank-and-file base,” wrote Susan Mulligan of US News & World Report, “Most Republicans in Congress oppose Obamacare, and it’s not because they have some racial issue with it; it’s because they believe it’s unwarranted and unwise federal government involvement with health care. But [racists] will vote for the GOP candidate for senator because the Democrat voted for the African-American president’s signature law.”
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