Mainstreaming the Fringe: Marjorie Greene and Laura Loomer’s GOP

From 2012 to 2016, the white “base” of the Republican party pivoted from free trade, fiscal prudence, a globally active military, and an unshakable commitment to NATO and our allies in Asia to protectionism, unbridled spending, isolationism, and Russophilia — all on a dime.

What has been consistent in the party’s rhetoric?

Republican leaders’ resignation to U.S. House candidates Marjorie Greene of Georgia and Laura Loomer of Florida points to the answer: ugly dog whistle politics stoking fear of any threat to racial hegemony. Initially spurned by the Republican party, Greene evokes the image of black and brown drug dealers and gangs and, abhorring the notion of Muslims in Congress, warns of an “Islamic invasion.” Loomer, a “proud Islamophobe” who has been banned from a number of social media sites and even ride-sharing services for her racist rants, holds similar positions. While the media have framed Greene and Loomer as “fringe” figures in the GOP, both candidates have been praised by Donald Trump.

Are Greene and Loomer’s positions really so marginal when it comes to their racialist politics? Paul Ryan called Trump’s actions “textbook” “racism”; and any number of other Republicans have said far worse things about minorities than Greene: Ted Cruz demanded we “patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods”; Republicans regularly invoke the image of Jews buying elections and even extended the nose of a Jewish Senate candidate Jon Ossof in an anti-Semitic attack ad; and Trump promised to develop a Muslim registry. And there’s the still legendary Ronald Reagan, who had this to say about African delegates to the U.N.: “To see those, those monkeys from those African countries — damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes!”

At least Democrats can claim to have made progress in developing a diverse party base.

90% of the GOP’s membership and 95% of its representatives are white. Because of the party’s exclusivist politics, race drives the country’s polarization:

Analysis of 2016 elections by u/Spatharios c. 2017: https://i.imgur.com/cGcgCFc.jpg

The Republican party cannot be considered an intellectually serious and policy driven organization until it becomes something other than an essentially white institution.

Hassanaly Ladha is Associate Professor of French and Comparative Literature at the University of Connecticut.

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