National Journal writer Ron Fournier spoke an objective truth last weekend on Fox News Sunday: “The fastest growing bloc in this country thinks the Republican Party hates them,” he said to Michael Needham, CEO of Heritage Action for America.
“This party, your party, cannot be the party of the future beyond November if you’re seen as the party of white people.”
Mr. Fournier didn’t break any new ground with that statement. The ballyhooed and then ignored GOP election “autopsy” said pretty much the same thing. If the Republican Party doesn’t broaden its reach to people of color, Hispanics in particular, it is doomed as a national party.
But Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., begged to differ. When he was asked by conservative radio personality Laura Ingraham to react to Mr. Fournier’s remark, he threw down the gauntlet:
“This is a part of the war on whites that’s being launched by the Democratic Party. And the way in which they’re launching this war is by claiming that whites hate everybody else. It’s a part of the strategy that Barack Obama implemented in 2008, continued in 2012, where he divides us all on race, on sex, greed, envy, class warfare, all those kinds of things. Well that’s not true. OK?
“And if you look at the polling data, every demographic group in America agrees with the rule of law, enforcing and securing our borders. And every one of them understands that illegal immigration hurts every single demographic group. It doesn’t make a difference if you’re a white American, a black American, Hispanic American, an Asian American or if you’re a woman or a man. Every single demographic group is hurt by falling wages and lost jobs.
“And so the Democrats, they have to demagogue on this and try and turn it into a racial issue, which is an emotional issue, rather than a thoughtful issue. If it becomes a thoughtful issue, then we win and we win big. And they lose and they lose big. And they understand that and as they get more desperate, they are going to argue race and things like that to a much heightened emotional state. …
Ms. Ingraham’s reaction: “[C]ongressman, don’t you think … that characterization is a little out there. … [T]hey’re playing the ‘race’ card. They’re playing the ‘race’ card just like they’re playing the ‘war on women’ card. This is what the left does. But I just think that phraseology might not be the best choice.”
You know you’ve vaulted over a line when even a firebrand conservative talker like Laura Ingraham feels compelled to call you out. Good for her for doing so, though I disagree with her blanket race-card accusation.
Anyway, Mr. Brooks’s sense of being aggrieved, this surreal notion that whites are under siege by everyone else, is worthy of a thousand side-eyes. Jonathan Chait at New York magazine put Mr. Brooks’s affront to history in its proper perspective:
“White racial victimization is a concept as old as racism itself. White reactionaries in the 19th century imagined that abolishing slavery would turn white people themselves into slaves, and the concept of white subjugation was transferred into such things as black suffrage, civil rights and so on. The war on whites has raged continuously in the right-wing mind for more than two centuries.”
Republican former House Majority Leader Dick Armey gets it. “You can’t call someone ugly and expect them to go to the prom with you,” Mr. Armey told the drafters of the GOP autopsy. “We’ve chased the Hispanic voter out of his natural home.”
And Mo Brooks is an example of why they won’t be coming back anytime soon.
Jonathan Capehart writes for The Washington Post.