The Republican Party made a bet that racism could sustain them—we'll know tomorrow if they're right
The Washington Post asks the question all of America should be asking: Is overt racism, in the form of white nationalist rhetoric, anti-immigrant television ads, and sweeping conspiracy theories, a path by which the Republican Party can retain its power? Republican officials and strategists clearly think so; The last month of the campaign has seen Republican candidates embrace Trump’s racist rhetoric wholeheartedly. Anti-Semitism, fevered claims of an immigrant “invasion,” and Trump’s own self-declaration as a “nationalist”—all of it, designed to rally the most racist elements of the conservative base.
By running so overtly on racially tinged messages, the GOP is putting that explosive form of politics on the ballot. If Republicans maintain control of the House, the notion of running a campaign built on blunt, race-based attacks on immigrants and minorities will have been validated. A loss, on the other hand, might prompt a number of Republicans to call for a rethinking of the party’s direction — but that would collide with a sitting president who, if anything, relishes over-the-edge rhetoric.
This is indeed the test. The Republican Party has shifted from dog-whistle racism to the explicit variety, boosted by conservative media outlets which themselves pressured lawmakers into these more radical stances. It is the result of catering to a movement that is predominantly, at this point, white, uneducated, and addicted to fury. But the last part of that is, I think, wishful thinking; there is little in recent history to suggest that a Republican loss tomorrow would result in a true “rethinking” of the party’s direction. The party is, at present, locked into its singular demographic. It cannot change.