Washington, DC – A hallmark of a functioning democracy and healthy political parties are whether they are willing and capable of holding leaders accountable who jeopardize public safety by intentionally spreading racist lies. Judging by these basic standards, the Republican Party is falling woefully short following the white supremacist killings in Buffalo.
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and other Republicans who have been helping to mainstream “replacement” and “invasion” conspiracies are neither chastened nor apologetic. In fact, Rep. Stefanik and other enablers are doubling down and lashing out at critics and observers highlighting her role in mainstreaming the formerly-fringe ideas. (See our roundup of the evidence of Rep. Stefanik mainstreaming these views here.)
Rep. Stefanik’s response and refusal to engage in chastened reflection echoes that of former Trump official Steve Bannon, who stated, following the Buffalo shootings and the renewed focus on “replacement” and “invasion” conspiracies, “We’re not going to back off … We are ascendant!” As a reminder, in late-April, Rep. Stefanik appeared on Bannon’s podcast and said, “it is an invasion…you do not have a country if you do not have secure borders,” one of the many examples of her embracing and elevating the “replacement” and “invasion” rhetoric similar to her fellow New Yorker, the Buffalo gunman.
As New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie aptly put it: “Republican politicians and conservative media personalities who traffic in this rhetoric did not create the idea of the ‘great replacement,’ but they have adopted it. They have chosen to swim in the same ideological waters as the people responsible for these shootings and have chosen to amplify the ‘great replacement’ theory to the world even as it poisoned minds and produced violence. It is clear that some of these politicians have made a cynical decision to adopt this rhetoric for the sake of gaining power.”
Alex Shephard, in The New Republic, writes, “Whether for ratings or votes, these ideas are now central to the Republican Party’s political messaging: that they are the one thing holding the country back from total chaos; that voting for Democrats will inevitably lead to policy shifts that will, in quick succession, lead to the downfall of the white race.”
Yet, as House Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) noted today, “We’re still waiting for a single House Republican leader to denounce replacement theory — the theory that led to the massacre in Buffalo.” And as Caucus Vice Chair Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA) stated, “What once would have been disqualifying is now a mainstream point of view” among GOP candidates and elected officials.
The following is a statement from Zachary Mueller, America’s Voice Political Director:
The doubling down by Rep. Stefanik and the refusal by Republicans to engage in real soul-searching is both disturbing and altogether unsurprising – given the GOP’s track record following Charlottesville, Pittsburgh, El Paso, Poway, and January 6th. But it’s another call to action for Democrats, outside observers, and Republicans horrified by the dangerous drift of their party. It’s a moment of truth. It’s a time to be clear-eyed about the white nationalist and anti-democratic sentiment emanating from the GOP. There must be political accountability for those who put us all at risk by spreading white nationalist lies.