The Point is to Divide. We Canโ€™t Let Them.

Racial Division is the Favorite Game of the Right

Sam Chavez
Sam Chavez

Table of Contents

๐Ÿค“ Bite-Sized Knurd: Recent reports of disinformation targeting Latino voters and the Islamaphobic rhetoric from Lauren Boebert (& GOP silence) show the GOPโ€™s tactics for the Midterm elections will be to divide voters to win with a shrinking base. We have the power to call their bluff and embrace our fellow Americans. Read on for more...

Ilhan Omar Plays Voicemail of Vile Death Threat She Received After Boebert  Video

We are only a month away from 2022. This means we are that much closer to another consequential election that will determine the fate of our country.

In 2022, the choice is do we embrace our fellow humans or do we divide?

This week was another reminder of the stakes of next year's Midterm elections. As the GOP continues to undermine our democracy through voter suppression, gerrymandering, and enacting laws to overturn future elections, they are also seeking to divide us and dilute the opposition's political power so that they can still win with a shrinking base.

Our Strength is Our Coalition

The Democratic Party (or generally people who want to have a democracy) is a Big Tent. Itโ€™s filled with so many different and complex people. We welcome all no matter their skin tone, the language they speak, the religion they practice, the love they have, etc.

While I believe this is a big strength (and generally the right thing to do), it does have its weaknesses. Because we are so diverse, it makes it that much easier to divide us.

The GOP does not have this issue. They are the party of white America. Many of their voters think and feel the same way. And one of the main ideas that are prevalent in the GOP is the idea of a Zero-sum world.

Zero-sum literally means that when one side gains, the other side loses.

In the context of politics, this means that if laws are passed that seek to bring justice to a historically underprivileged minority group, then white America loses. While this has been debunked many times and is actually the opposite of reality (I personally recommend Heather McGheeโ€™s โ€˜The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Togetherโ€™ to learn more), it is a powerful political tool that the GOP wields (very successfully, unfortunately).

The Zero-sum myth becomes especially potent as the GOPโ€™s base shrinks.

While the Democratโ€™s weakness is that our diversity can be manipulated to divide, the GOPโ€™s weakness is its shrinking population. The 2020 Census showed, for the first time, a decline in the nationโ€™s white population. The inevitable diversification of the US has become a war cry for many of the white leaders in the GOP. Tucker Carlson has brought a White Supremacist theory called the โ€˜great replacementโ€™ into the mainstream by claiming Democrats want to increase immigration to โ€œreplaceโ€ white Americans. (I tend to think that Democrats just value human life and think immigrants should have just as much opportunity to succeed as anyone else, but Iโ€™m an optimist.)

All of this context is important to understand why the racist, exclusionary rhetoric has only increased since the former guy lost the presidential election last year.

Islamophobia & Sarah Palinโ€™s Protege

Perhaps the most disturbing example of this is the Islamophobic rhetoric that has been coming from a first-time congressperson from Colorado.

In a series of leaked videos and statements, Lauren Boebert is seen calling Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN-D) a terrorist, โ€œa sand [n-word],โ€ โ€œevil,โ€ and a โ€œf-cking traitorโ€ simply because of her religion and headscarf. She even harassed her to her face on an elevator when she first got to Congress, joking that at least Rep. Omar didnโ€™t have a backpack implying she was a suicide bomber. I, for one, canโ€™t imagine fearing for my physical safety at my job because my coworker hates the very core of my being.

Taking directly from Sarah Palinโ€™s 2008 playbook, Boebert uses bombastic, racist language to gain attention, fire up her supporters, and divide the rest.

This is now a political strategy for the GOP. Say something so unthinkably hateful that the media covers it. Then sit back and wait for the fundraising dollars to come in.

But it comes at a human cost.

By dehumanizing elected officials and inciting hatred, you are bound to create real-world, potentially deadly, consequences. Ilhan Omar attempted to bring light to this when she played a voicemail from a Boebert supporter telling her that she "will not live much longer."

The Latino Disinformation Wave

While elected officials are increasing the hateful rhetoric, the right-wing ecosystem is hard at work to divide the fastest-growing group of voters: Latinos.

Using social media and Spanish-language radio, right-wing groups are directly targeting groups of Latino voters to scare them away from the Democratic party.

Many of the messages seem absurd. During Bidenโ€™s inauguration, they warned that a brooch worn by Lady Gaga signaled Biden was working with shadowy, international leftist figures. But they become effective overtime when the messages keep coming. If you hear something over and over again across multiple places, then youโ€™re bound to start thinking that some of it is true.

The goal of blasting the airwaves with false claims about Democrats is to cut trust in institutions and tie Democrats to the dangerous form of socialism that has historically occurred in Latin America.

The GOP has a strong ally in companies like Facebook who have historically been terrible about combating misinformation in general. Itโ€™s even worse with non-English language misinformation. Internal documents show that the company failed to flag 70% of Spanish-language misinformation about COVID. If they canโ€™t get COVID misinformation under control, thereโ€™s little hope for containing the Lada Gaga brooch lie.

They Canโ€™t & Wonโ€™t Succeed

Thereโ€™s a lot to feel negative about recently, but I prefer to look on the bright side.

And the bright side is that we have agency to change things.

We can heal the wounds of this country and bring more empathy and respect to government.

Dividing the rest has an added perk of making people feel hopeless and give up. When youโ€™re constantly inundated with racist language from elected officials, itโ€™s easy to think that thereโ€™s no hope and that you canโ€™t do anything about it.

But thatโ€™s the goal. And if we recognize that the goal is to make us feel hopeless, then I sure as hell am not going to feel hopeless. There are more people in this country that want democracy and kindness than not.

We just have to talk to those people. We have to organize. We have to support candidates that share compassion. We can defeat the hate that is dividing our country if we choose. What will you choose?

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Sam Chavez

Sam is a writer, strategist, and curious human. She founded the roots of change agency in 2020. Sam is a queer, white, LatinX activist whoโ€™s passionate about a livable planet & equitable societies.


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