Tonight, in response to President Joe Biden’s address to Congress, Republicans and their allies will not offer solutions or policies. Instead, they will trot out their anti-immigrant attacks, relying on their same strategic racist frame. It’s been their main focus in 2021 as we’ve seen from numerous stunts and photo ops. According to Republican strategists, it’s going to be their main political message in 2022.
So, they will talk about a “crisis” at the border in order to distract from the fact that no Republican supported the American Rescue Plan that put checks into American’s pockets and has stimulated the economy. They’ll rant about Vice President Harris not visiting the border while overlooking the success of the Biden/Harris vaccination distribution. They’ll try to distract Americans with claims about terrorists at the border while ignoring the domestic terrorists who the leader of their party sent to the United States Capitol on January 6 to overturn the election.
In case you have any doubts that this will be the GOP strategy, they’re already doing it:
- Previewing his Republican response, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, wrote: “The reality is our nation faces a crisis at the border.”
- The Republican National Committee (RNC) put out a 100 point memo this morning where the first 15 points they criticize Biden for are under the heading “Biden’s Open Borders Agenda Created A Border Crisis.” The RNC later tweeted a graphic with the same message
- RNC National Spokesperson, Paris Dennard, put out a video this morning where he warned that “you won’t hear about Biden’s total failure at the border,” in Biden’s speech.
- The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) tweeted about drugs at the border. Last week, it was milk cartons.
- The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) tweeted an oped by Texas Senator Ted Cruz (who became an internet meme for hiding in the bushes during a border photo op)
- RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel started the day by tweeting the hit on the VP not going to the border.
- And, not to be overlooked, the Attorney General of Texas, Ken Paxton, did another boat ride stunt on the Rio Grande today, vowing he would “not stop fighting for the rule of law.” Paxton, who spoke at the January 6 pre-insurrection rally, is facing state felony securities fraud charges and also under a federal investigation for corruption.
The Republican’s reliance on strategic racism has deadly consequences when individuals and groups are mobilized to violence. But this divide and distract tactic is also a twofold scam. It attempts to artificially inflate the threat level of non-white others for their base to scare every last nickel of their supporter’s pockets. But arguably more important, is that this divide and distract tactic hurts everyone, including their supporters by valuing division over solutions to improve all American’s lives.
Don’t fall for the GOP’s “crisis” con, it is short on facts, threatens our democracy, and distracts from the real challenges we face together as a nation.
A quick aside on the facts:
Our immigration system has been dysfunctional for decades. Before Trump and Stephen Miller came along and weaponized the broken system with a strategy of deterrence through intentional cruelty. The increase in numbers of migrants at the border that Republicans were performatively jumping up and down over is constant with normal seasonal increases in numbers. A fact Republicans knew ahead of time and planned to exploit in this exact cynical political strategy. But as Alexandra Yellin of Human Rights First writes, “The prospect that people making the decision to flee for their lives are basing that decision on changes in U.S. immigration policy is both woefully self-centered and laughably wrong-headed.”
All this to say that the numbers of migrants and refugees go up and down for a number of factors but little to do with whether the President of the United States is a nice guy or not. All that said, it appears that the Biden administration has begun to turn the corner and is managing the challenge in a way this is looking to treat migrants with respect. There is still a ways to go, but Republican fear-mongering is only a political distraction from solving that problem.