Thanks to Kanye West, we’ve all known since last year that George Bush doesn’t care about black people, but what about the Republican Party? This midterm election cycle provides some disturbing answers. This is not about the rampant Republican-Abramoff corruption scandals or how Republican leaders protected child predator Congressman Mark Foley and even encouraged him to run for re-election. I am referring to the racism coming from Republican candidates and the documented attempts by the Republican National Committee to exploit existing racist sentiments in order to maintain power.
Perhaps this is a bit heavy, especially if you are reading this to pass the time in your 8 a.m. lecture. So, let’s back up and take a look at some of this year’s examples. Republican primary candidate Tramm Hudson in Florida’s 13th Congressional District stated in August that he “grew up in Alabama, and I understand, and I know this from my own experience, that blacks are not the greatest swimmers or may not even know how to swim.” Wow. On Aug. 11, Senator George Allen, R-Va., referred to his challenger’s campaign staffer of Indian descent as “Macaca,” a racist term, and said “Welcome to America,” despite the fact that the staffer was born and raised in Virginia. There’s even ignorance in California, as we learned when a tape of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s policy meetings was recently released, in which he said that the hot tempers of some women were due to their mixed black and Latina blood.
Perhaps those are bad, but not indicative of the whole party, right? Wrong. In Orange County, Republican congressional candidate Tan Nguyen’s campaign sent out emails to Latino registered Democrats stating that if they were immigrants, legal or not, they would face trouble with the law if they attempted to vote. In Tennessee, Republican Senate candidate Bob Corker is in a tight race against Democrat Harold Ford Jr., who could be the first black senator popularly elected from a Southern state. Ever.
On Oct. 24, the Los Angeles Times ran a story stating that “A new Republican Party television ad featuring a scantily clad white woman winking and inviting a black candidate to ‘call me’ is drawing charges of race-baiting, with critics saying it contradicts a landmark GOP statement last year that the party was wrong in past decades to use racial appeals to win support from white voters.” That’s right, the RNC is happily enforcing an old racist sentiment of Southern whites, the belief that blacks are after their women, to win votes. Corker, who first denounced the ad, has now released a radio ad that plays jungle-like drumming while attacking Ford. After all, how else are voters going to know he’s black? Right? Guys?
If you are wondering why the Republicans have yet again sunk to this level, the answer is simple: With their policies failing and their corruption spread across front pages, they have nowhere left to turn but to scare up the racist supporters of a conservative agenda. If you believe that the Nexus is free of this type of subtle racism then I suggest you think very carefully about Courtney Stevens’s column (“Liberty Belle: Immigration Policies Are Too Lenient,” Daily Nexus, Oct. 20) that mentions illegal immigrants on welfare as if it were a significant problem – which it is not.
There is a clear alternative this year. If Democrats win back Congress, Nancy Pelosi will become the first female Speaker of the House ever and has pledged the following actions during the first 100 hours of a new congress: cut interest rates on students loans in half; finally enact the recommendations of the independent 9/11 Commission; strict new anti-corruption rules; allow the government to negotiate lower drug costs; end the attempt to privatize Medicare and Social Security; raise the minimum wage to $7.25; and roll back subsidies to oil and gas companies. If you want to be a part of the effort to rescue tolerance in America and move towards a brighter future then check out the UCSB Democrats at www.ucsbdems.com, and vote Democrat on Nov. 7.
Ben Sheldon-Tarzynski is a senior history and classics major.