For a political party that seethes at the idea of identity politics, Republicans sure are obsessed with preserving their heritage as a matter of policy.
On Friday afternoon, the leading lights of the GOP announced they were forming the America First Caucus, an initiative intended to promote, among other things, “a culture, strengthened by a common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions.” The caucus is a pet project of QAnon congressperson Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has made waves lately with her anti-trans messaging and tiresome stunts, and Representative Paul Gosar, who is perhaps best known for speaking at a white nationalist conference and once inspiring his entire family to create a campaign ad for his opponent. Predictably, the America First Caucus’s policy platform mainly serves to lodge formal complaints about immigration, “election integrity,” and COVID-19 safety precautions. But in a broader context it’s so much worse.
Aside from despairing about the supposed cancellation of Dr. Seuss and Mr. Potato Head and making life hell for the trans community, the GOP’s strategy in the Biden era has mainly involved hitting the administration for being “soft” on immigration and introducing a flood of voter suppression bills.
Those last two elements have lately been linked in GOP messaging, however, in an alarming way. Tucker Carlson has been under fire more than usual this past week for promoting what sounds an awful lot like great replacement theory, the white supremacist idea that elites want to bring in enough immigrants to demographically and culturally supplant the current population. According to Carlson, the Biden administration’s purportedly lax immigration policies are an effort to bring in new voters to elect future Democratic candidates, and ultimately wipe Real Americans off the map. It’s the kind of thinking that historically leads to genocide—and not the kind of genocide Carlson is scaremongering about.
The message has already permeated far beyond a Fox News outrage cycle. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich echoed the same views earlier this week, as did Senator Ron Johnson on a Thursday night Fox Business program. Taken altogether, this mass messaging launders the kind of nativist, proto-fascist thinking about immigration and voting that thrives on 8Chan and in mass-shooter manifestos, making it seem more sanitized and legitimate.
Considering the unsubtle bullet points of the America First Caucus, we’re likely to hear a lot more soon about “aesthetic value that befits the progeny of European architecture” from the Senate floor.
Perhaps identity politics is only a bad thing when it doesn’t come from straight Anglo-Saxon Americans.