As the midterm election campaign winds down (or given the enthusiasm levels, winds up) to a tense conclusion, there’s not much doubt about the Trump/GOP closing pitch, made almost exclusively to the party’s conservative “base:” it’s about the “caravan,” the evil lying media, the scheming socialist Democrats, and the threat to law and order posed by (non-white) Democratic constituencies. It’s a fear campaign with the president’s usual lurid touches.
But make no mistake: underlying these themes is a politics of race and identity that somehow isn’t seen as malignant by Republicans because of the race involved and its endangered majority status. Adam Serwer does a good job of exposing the truth that is just barely beneath the surface of the GOP midterm message:
In upstate New York, an embattled Republican incumbent attacks his black, Harvard-educated Democratic challenger as a “big-city rapper”; in California, an anti-immigrant Republican under federal indictment smears his Arab American rival as a terrorist; in Georgia, a state far from the Southern border, the Republican candidate for governor brags that he’ll drive around in his pickup truck and “round up criminal illegals and take ’em home myself.” Although the president hasn’t spent as much time in recent appearances emphasizing the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, he framed the opposition to his nominee, who faced multiple accusations of sexual assault, as an attack on powerful men by dangerous feminists.
This approach has drawn predictable criticism from the left for its appeal to prejudice, but somehow, few of the pundits convinced that identity politics poses a threat to democracy have displayed alarm as the president and…