Self-described Nazis and white supremacists are running as Republicans across the country. The GOP is terrified.The racist candidates are expected to lose, but they could drag their party down with them.
By Jane Coastonjane.email@example.com
Jul 9, 2018, 9:50am EDT
In at least five state and national races across the country, the Republican Party is dealing with an uncomfortable problem. Their party’s candidates are either a card-carrying Nazi, a Holocaust denier, a proud white supremacist, or all of the above.
In North Carolina, for example, GOP officials are stuck with Russell Walker, a white supremacist running for the state House of Representatives. According to his personal website (littered with the n-word), he believes that “the jews are NOT semitic they are satanic as they all descend from Satan.”
Republicans in the state have regrets. “This is a very Democratic district, one that we failed to keep our eye on,” Dallas Woodhouse, executive chair of the North Carolina GOP, told me in an email. “However, we can’t stop him from running.”
In Illinois, meanwhile, the Republican Party shrugged off Arthur Jones, a candidate for the state’s 3rd Congressional district who boasted of his membership in the American Nazi Party. But Jones won the GOP primary, and now party officials, including ones who called Jones “morally reprehensible” and “a complete nutcase,” are scrambling to launch a write-in campaign. Jones’s campaign website features a section called “Holocaust?” in which he argues that the “idea that six million Jews, were killed by the National Socialist government of Germany, in World War II, is the biggest, blackest lie in history.”
In Virginia, the chair of the state GOP resigned earlier this month, reportedly because of alt-right leaning, pro-Confederate candidate Corey Stewart’s win in the Republican primary. But even Stewart had to disavow Wisconsin’s Paul Nehlen, who is running to replace Speaker Paul Ryan. Nehlen’s too racist for Twitter and even for Gab, the preferred social media platform of the alt-right. Meanwhile, a California Republican running for Congress has been making appearances on neo-Nazi podcasts and argues on his campaign website that “diversity” is a Jewish plot. (The California GOP has disavowed him.)
Racial animus helped fuel the rise of Donald Trump. Since the end of the civil rights movement and under Republican strategist Lee Atwater’s “Southern strategy” that used racism as an unstated cudgel against Democrats, the Republican Party itself has played a welcoming host to racial tensions and fears. Simultaneously, it has depicted itself, as conservative columnist Jeff Jacoby put it in 2012, as “the party of color-blind equality and “a party that doesn’t think with its skin.”
But in a year when the left is energized in opposition to Trump, particularly by his policies toward minority groups and immigrants, and as the GOP tries to hang on to their majorities in Congress and state houses around the country, state party officials say they do not need racist fringe candidates running for office. None of these candidates is expected to win in the general election this fall, but they are going to give liberals on the hunt for examples of simmering neo-Nazi and neo-Confederate rhetoric at least five places to point.