Democrats Use the Specter of Racism to Sow Racial Discord
Democrats routinely blame Donald Trump for exacerbating racial tensions, but they're the ones who made the stoking of ethnic conflict a hallmark of their electoral strategy long before 2016.
President Lyndon Johnson, for instance, reportedly viewed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act in purely cynical and racist terms, predicting that the new laws would enable Democrats to secure the black vote for generations to come. Democrats then spent the next several decades baselessly impugning their Republican opponents as racists, but the practice really ramped up during the administration of President Barack Obama.
As the militant Black Lives Matter movement began calling for violence against police officers and rioting in the streets, Obama added fuel to the fire with his pronouncements on race. When the nation was divided over the killing of black teenager Trayvon Martin, for instance, Obama remarked that if he had a son, he would look like Martin.
When Ferguson, Missouri was turned upside-down by protesters after a police officer shot a black teenager who was trying to escape custody, Obama offered perfunctory support for law enforcement yet simultaneously validated the protesters by saying he thinks their concerns are justified. When a black college professor raised a national furor because a white police officer confused him for a burglar as he was trying to enter his home through a window, Obama's immediate response was to condemn the police department for "acting stupidly."
Obama's divisive comments on issues of race made him sound tone-deaf to the nation as a whole, but they were perfectly tailored to appeal to the increasingly radical Democrat base.
Particularly after the 2010 Census, many Democrats reached the conclusion that demographic change was the key to forging a dominant electoral coalition that would last in perpetuity. Once the United States became a "majority-minority" country, the thinking went, Democrats would be able to reap the electoral rewards using their well honed strategy of racial pandering and fear-mongering. The end result would be nationwide one-party rule, mirroring the Left's dominance of the State of California.
Democrats have embraced this perspective wholeheartedly in recent years, turning the politics of racial resentment into a cornerstone of the modern Left. Even so-called "centrists," such as Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton, have built their presidential campaigns on foundations of radical identity politics just as intently as the party's far left wing.
Today, one is just as likely to hear talk of "structural racism" and "white privilege" from the lips of Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, or Robert Francis "Beto" O'Rourke as from Senator Elizabeth Warren or Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Biden, who is trying to run as a consummate centrist, even made the discredited Charlottesville hoax the center of his campaign launch.
Their goal is to galvanize minority voters by stoking the unfounded fears of white revanchism and by portraying Republicans as an imminent danger. While Democrats have long deployed racial division as a political tactic, today they appear to be constitutionally incapable of discussing anything else.
This has clearly had a pernicious effect on how Americans perceive race relations. In 2012, it was considered beyond the pale for then–DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz to smear Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's welfare policies as racist dog whistles. In 2019, though, those sorts of senseless accusations of racism are daily and ubiquitous.
No wonder people think racial tensions have increased.
But they also recognize that the deterioration of race relations has been driven by the full-on embrace of racial identity politics by the mainstream media, Democrat politicians, and liberal cultural elites. Even left-wing outlet Vox recognizes that the trend began well before President Trump came to power, referring to the change in public sentiment as a "Great Awokening."
After President Trump's recent tweets criticizing the quartet of radical representatives who have taken control of the Democratic Party, liberal journalists and politicians predictably came out in full force to slander the president as a "racist." Their efforts to lay the blame for racial division at the president's feet, however, are contradicted by the toxic rhetoric they themselves have used to exploit and exacerbate existing racial tensions.
Mother Jones commentator Kevin Drum, for instance, has even called for a "literal or figurative war" against "[r]eactionary whites," a sentiment shared, albeit not often expressed in such explicit terms, by many other liberal commentators.
Unlike Barack Obama, President Trump was elected because he offered an agenda designed to empower all Americans, not divide the country into arbitrary categories based on race. If you are a citizen of this great nation, President Trump stands for you and will fight for your interests.
Democrats, on the other hand, fear the powerful appeal of this commonsense, patriotic approach and have tried to balkanize the American electorate in hopes of exploiting isolated identity groups with grievance politics. Their selfish attempts to seize power have done real damage to American unity and our ability to believe in a shared future.
The American electorate must firmly reject the Democrats' attempts to divide and conquer along racial lines. The best place to do that is at the ballot box. President Trump's re-election might be the only way to convince the Democrats to finally give up on their divisive, race-baiting political strategy.
Ken Blackwell is a member of the Policy Board of the American Civil Rights Union.