UPDATE: November 8, 2017: Every single Democrat below who was the target of a hate-based ad has won. The lesson of 2017 — racism doesn’t pay.
It’s Election Day again, which means that another season of bigoted, hateful, racist, and anti-immigrant campaign material has come to an end. While ugly campaign tactics are nothing new, a clear “Trump effect” has been on display this year, where reputedly moderate Republicans (like former Republican National Committee Chair Ed Gillespie) have run scorched-earth campaigns in a desperate attempt to scare voters into giving them traction. If enough of them succeed, we’ll be sure to see a barrage of xenophobic, “gutter politics”-type ads in 2018 and beyond. As Paul Krugman noted in today’s NYT, the GOP seems to have accepted these tactics:
In particular, if “never Trump” Republicans really wanted to purge Trumpism from the party, they’d be urging voters to reject Gillespie for his vile tactics. This column was written before Virginia’s vote, but Gillespie might well win — and if he does, the party will become even more Steve Bannon’s party than it is now. So how many in the Republican establishment have spoken up to say that Gillespie must lose if the party is to save its soul? Hardly any.
Only New Jersey and Virginia had statewide elections this year, and in both, the Republican gubernatorial candidates demonized immigrants and compared them to criminals and murderers. But local elections across the country have seen similarly xenophobic campaigns. In New Jersey, two separate towns saw racist flyers depicting Asian-American candidates as foreigners hostile to American values. A New York City mayoral candidate tweeted out a picture of current mayor Bill de Blasio standing next to an activist wearing a headscarf and suggested that de Blasio wouldn’t be able to keep the city safe. And over and over again, in Virginia House of Delegate campaigns and elsewhere, Republicans slandered immigrants by painting them as an unwanted or criminal presence responsible for harming Americans.
The facts, of course, show that pro-immigrant policies make communities more safe, that immigrants commit fewer crimes than native-born Americans, and that immigrants are a boon for the economy. That’s probably why the vast majority of Americans support immigration reform with a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already here — and why hate-based campaigns are unlikely to be successful for most candidates or parties in the long run.
View our gallery of some of this year’s most hateful and racist campaigns: