Racism was the Republican Party's message in 2018. It lost, big.
Republicans made a major bet in 2018 that tightly embracing racism would pay off for them just as well as it has in the past.
Instead, it helped the GOP lose 40 House seats in the midterm elections and sent them back into the minority.
A stunning 90 percent of the House seats that Republicans held on to will be occupied by white men. Democrats broke new ground for racial and gender diversity in the House — while House Republicans actually lost 43 percent of the women in their caucus.
And when you look back on the year in racism for Republicans in 2018, it's clear that the GOP is determined to be the party that represents white men, and only white men.
Trump's Trickle-Down Racism
The GOP's refusal to fight racism starts at the top.
When Trump was asked about his embrace of racism and nationalism by PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor, who is a black woman, Trump whined that it was "such a racist question."
He went on to claim that he has strong support "with African-Americans" — but black voters have never backed Trump, and in fact have remained the most opposed to his bigoted presidency.
Trump didn't just push racism in the United States. He also created an international incident by using his Twitter account to promote the same myth about supposed "white genocide" that is pushed by white supremacists in South Africa. The South African government publicly rebuked Trump's allegations, and America was once again humiliated on the world stage.
Not wanting to be left out, Vice President Mike Pence backed his boss's racist attacks on NFL players who have taken a knee to protest police brutality. Pence once left an Indianapolis Colts game in a faux huff over kneeling players — but it was a pre-planned stunt, which was later revealed to have cost taxpayers at least $325,000.
Yet despite the one-two racist punch from Trump and Pence, the country continued to support athletes pushing for equality and justice.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began the kneeling protest, became the front man for sneaker juggernaut Nike's latest iteration of the "Just Do It" ad campaign. While Trump fumed that players like Kaepernick just "shouldn't be in the country," Nike saw a surge in sales and a boost in stock value.
Racism in the Midterms
Republicans quickly realized that their massive tax scam for the rich wasn't going to be a winning campaign message. So, desperate to keep their seats in the midterm elections, they picked racism instead.
The White House revealed this game plan early in the year when Trump adviser Stephen Miller said the administration would ramp up the fearmongering over immigration — even though this same racist message had failed months before in Virginia's gubernatorial election.
Party elders would admit later in the year that racism was an electoral loser. But by then it was too late, and the vast majority of the Republican Party had started marching in lockstep with Trump's open hate.
Too Racist for Fox News
Fox News has been racist for a long time. To create advertising too racist for Fox News is to blaze a new trail in American politics.
And Trump did just that.
Ahead of the midterm elections, Trump's campaign ran a racist ad that falsely blamed Democrats for the release of an undocumented immigrant who killed police. The ad was so racist that it drew immediate comparisons to the infamously race-baiting Willie Horton ad from 1988.
That was over the line even for Fox, which pulled the ad.
The commercial was also factually wrong. The person responsible for letting the eventual cop-killer back on the streets was actually former Sheriff Joe Arpaio — the disgraced ex-law enforcement official from Arizona who received Trump's first pardon.
And the crime Arpaio was pardoned for? Contempt of court for refusing to obey a judge's order to stop enforcing his racist policies.
RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel also disgraced herself defending Trump's ad in an appearance on CNN. Anchor Jake Tapper asked her point blank, "It’s factually inaccurate, and it’s racially incendiary — you don’t have any issue with that?"
She apparently didn't. Instead, McDaniel digressed and returned to harping on Republican complaints about the immigration system.
Republicans ended the year being too racist for Fox News — and that's saying something.
In Virginia, Republicans picked neo-Confederate candidate Corey Stewart as their nominee for Senate. Endorsed by Trump, Stewart was unabashed in his praise for the pro-slavery losing side of the Civil War.
Almost as soon as polls closed on election night, the results were clear: Stewart had been blown out by Sen. Tim Kaine (D), who had the strong support of an increasingly diverse Virginia.
Rep. Steve Knight (R-CA) featured a man in a campaign ad who turned out to be a virulent racist. The man, David Brayton, was revealed to have quoted Adolf Hitler, shared an illustration calling for the lynching of President Barack Obama, and advocated for shooting journalists.
Yet even after learning all of this, Knight still said he was "proud to have earned" Brayton's vote. And on election night, voters sent Knight packing with many of his fellow California Republicans.
In the House, Republicans lost 40 seats as well as their majority. Much of that failure can directly be traced to the racism at top that flowed through the entire movement.
Republicans are refusing to learn the lesson America is trying to teach them. If anything, they are getting worse under Trump.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.