In the immediate aftermath of the massacre in Buffalo, New York, where a deranged white supremacist killed 10 people, elite opinion quickly settled on the real culprit: Republicans.
The New York Times spelled it out explicitly in an editorial this week, claiming Republican politicians and conservative commentators like Tucker Carlson, “openly espouse versions of a white supremacist conspiracy theory holding that an orchestrated effort is underway to displace white Americans.”
The Times is of course referring to so-called “replacement theory,” the idea that global elites are trying to “replace” white Americans with immigrants and foreigners, which the Times thinks is a common belief among Republicans. Not to be outdone by the Times, the Washington Post’s editors on Monday declared, “what was once on the fringes has now been given currency, thanks to the Republican Party’s tolerance of white nationalists who count themselves as part of its base.”
The notion that “replacement theory” is mainstream on the right, much less in the GOP, is of course abject nonsense. But the accusation serves a purpose. By conflating the conspiracy theories of maniacs like the Buffalo shooter with legitimate calls for, say, border security and controls on illegal immigration, the left can smear all Republicans as white supremacists.
Doing so serves a useful purpose for Democrats. If Republicans are the party of people who believe global elites are trying to “replace” white Americans with immigrants and foreigners, then any calls to fix our immigration system or solve the ongoing crisis at the border must be in bad faith, nothing more than rank racism thinly disguised as a respectable-sounding immigration agenda.
It also serves Democrats in another way: it helps mask an electoral agenda they once openly espoused. It’s no secret that Democrats think mass illegal immigration will accrue to their electoral advantage over the long term. For years, they have felt comfortable saying so routinely on national television.
Indeed, the notion that “demographics is destiny” has been a long-running belief among Democrats, famously spelled out in John Judis and Ruy Teixeira’s widely acclaimed 2002 book, “The Emerging Democratic Majority.” Part of their argument rests on the assumption that immigration, legal and illegal, will swell the ranks of Democrat voters and hasten the inevitable emergence of a permanent Democratic majority.
That theory, whatever its merits in 2002, is looking weaker by the year. Under President Trump, the Republican Party made huge inroads among black and Hispanic voters, especially in areas like south Texas and Florida, where Democrats’ theory of demographics would have suggested such GOP gains would be impossible.
It’s not just Republican voters who are getting more diverse, but also Republican officeholders. As Henry Olsen noted after the 2020 election, which saw a record number of Republican women and minorities elected to the House, “every seat Republicans have flipped from blue to red has been captured by a woman or a minority.”
The Virginia statewide elections last year continued this trend, with a black woman, Winsome Sears, elected lieutenant governor, and an Hispanic man, Jason Miyares, elected attorney general. So much for the emerging Democratic majority.
But here’s the thing: Republicans didn’t come up with the “demographics is destiny” idea. Democrats did. For years, they bragged that rising levels of immigration and massive demographic change would usher in profound changes in U.S. politics. The Buffalo shooter went on and on about this in his idiotic manifesto, echoing similar diatribes from other racist mass shooters in recent years. Wonder where they got the idea?
It’s true that the country is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse. That’s not a good thing or a bad thing, it’s simply a fact.
The problem for Democrats is that this more diverse electorate isn’t voting the way they hoped it would. In part, that’s because Republicans are waking up to the fact that immigration and border security, together with other commonsense policies like not letting rioters burn down neighborhoods and not shutting down the economy because of Covid, are issues that can broaden their base and bring in a more diverse array of voters.
All of which is to say, asinine white supremacist notions about how all the races should live separately have absolutely nothing to do with efforts to control illegal immigration, and most people know it. When Democrats try to smear Republicans as white supremacists for wanting a secure border, understand that they’re not just trying to demonize the right, they’re trying to change the subject. Illegal immigration is just about the last thing any Democrat wants voters thinking about heading into the midterms.
Why? Because the border is a complete disaster. According to the latest data, federal authorities arrested more than 234,000 illegal immigrants in April, yet another record-breaking monthly total. So far this fiscal year, nearly 1.3 million illegal border-crossers have been arrested along the southwest border, also a record.
Ordinary, non-white supremacist Americans of all races and walks of life look at this and think something must be very wrong at the border. They see news stories like the one this week about an industrial-scale drug-smuggling tunnel that federal authorities discovered on the California-Mexico border — six stories deep and the length of six football fields, with reinforced walls, electricity, ventilation and a rail system — and they wonder what’s going on in Mexico.
They are smart enough to know that drugs like fentanyl, which is ravaging American communities, come primarily from labs in northern Mexico that are controlled by powerful cartels. They also know that these cartels are in the business of drug and human trafficking, and that they profit off mass illegal immigration.
Voters are not stupid, certainly not stupid enough to believe that the GOP and Tucker Carlson are fomenting white supremacist conspiracy theories. But the editors at The New York Times and the Washington Post, along with every leading Democrat including the president, think they are. At this point, they’re counting on it.