"Proto-fascist thug demagoguery": Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and the right's new race lie

Ted Cruz has a truth problem. Donald Trump is playing a Silent Majority card. Ugliness is in the air

By Chauncey DeVega

Senior Writer

Published December 2, 2015 4:52PM (EST)

  (Reuters/Scott Morgan/Chris Keane/Photo montage by Salon)
(Reuters/Scott Morgan/Chris Keane/Photo montage by Salon)

Ted Cruz, like his fellow Republican 2016 presidential primary candidates, has a troubled relationship with reality. He has offered many examples of this problem, such as how in response to the horrific right-wing terrorist attack on a Colorado Planned Parenthood facility last Friday, Cruz recycled a lie from the bowels of the right-wing Internet that Robert Lewis Dear, the shooter, is a “transgendered leftist activist."

Cruz continued his twisted relationship with the facts by suggesting that:

"Here is the simple and undeniable fact – the overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats,” he said on “The Hugh Hewitt Show” that evening.

“There is a reason why for years the Democrats have been viewed as soft on crime,” Cruz continued. "They go in and appoint to the bench judges who release violent criminals.

“They go in and fight to give the right to vote to convicted felons,” the 2016 GOP presidential candidate added. "Why?

“The Democrats know that convicted felons tend to vote Democrat. The media never reports on any of that. [It] doesn’t want to admit any of that.”

The FBI doesn't gather data on the partisan identification of those who are arrested and convicted of crimes. Consequently, the best way to assess Cruz’s claims is to examine crime rates on a state-by-state and regional level.

As detailed by the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, “red states” have higher rates of violent and property crime than “blue states."

(Of note, Cruz left out the criminal behavior of Wall Street and the plutocrat class — a group that is overwhelmingly Republican—who ruined the economy and through their direct and indirect actions have killed many thousands of people by destroying their life chances.)

This is part of a broader pattern where “red state” America is guilty of the very social ills that they project onto more liberal and progressive parts of the country. In reality, Republican-controlled areas tend to be poorer, and have higher rates of divorce, teen pregnancy and unemployment than Democrat leaning states.

The right-wing echo chamber and its followers bray and moan about “immorality” and a decline in “American values” caused by “liberals” and “progressives." But it would seem that the best solution could instead be found by looking in the mirror — and at their own communities and neighborhoods —instead of elsewhere for “sin."

Cruz’s claim that “the overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats” is but one more dishonest statement on top of an already overflowing garbage can of right-wing effluence and propaganda that has stunk up American politics this 2016 presidential primary season.

The veracity of Cruz’s claims is irrelevant to the Republican base. The right-wing news entertainment complex is in an alternate reality. Cruz is using the politics of white racism and white racial resentment to win support from the white voters who live in that information bubble. Like Donald Trump, who recently shared a white supremacist infographic about “black crime," Ted Cruz is using the racist “Southern Strategy” and “law and order” politics that are the go to playbook for a post civil rights era Republican Party which functions as the United States’ de facto largest white supremacist organization.

Black and brown Americans are stalwart members of the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party’s support also skews towards the more populated and urban parts of the United States. Cruz, like George H.W. Bush with the infamous Willie Horton ad, or Ronald Reagan with his “welfare queens," is using a white supremacist narrative of black Americans as social deviants and natural criminals to tarnish the Democratic Party as “illegitimate," “too liberal," and not “white enough” for “real, hardworking, white America."

The Republican Party’s decades-long effort to brand the Democratic Party as incompatible with white people’s political interests has been very effective. Racial animus, belief in anti-black stereotypes, and the degree to which white voters identify the Democratic Party as being associated with African-Americans, over-determines the former’s likelihood of leaning towards the Republican Party. This dynamic of racial animus and resentment helps to explain why many lower middle class and working class whites support Republicans even when their material self-interest would be better served by voting for Democrats.

Cruz’s lie about “violent criminals” being “Democrats” is also an attempt at legitimizing political violence. In much the same rhetorical style as Bill O’Reilly — who continues to bloviate screeds that the Black Lives Matter Movement are “terrorists” and a “hate group” — if Democrats are violent criminals then the reasonable solution is to defend oneself with force against them.

These are the racist and dangerous “Stand Your Ground” laws amplified on a national stage. Moreover, in a moment of increased authoritarianism, resurgent right-wing domestic terrorism, and the proto-fascist thug demagoguery of Donald Trump, such rhetoric is extremely dangerous and irresponsible.

Today’s Republican Party cannot win a war of ideas. The Republican Party’s policies are unpopular across many issue positions.   Because of that fact, Cruz’s violent rhetoric complements a strategy of voter demobilization and political intimidation.

If you can keep the opposition from voting — as well as mobilize white fear and racial anxieties about people of color — then it is much easier to win elections.   

To the degree the Republican Party uses such strategies, they are both un-American and anti-democratic — the “grand old party” indeed.

By Chauncey DeVega

Chauncey DeVega is a senior politics writer for Salon. His essays can also be found at Chaunceydevega.com. He also hosts a weekly podcast, The Chauncey DeVega Show. Chauncey can be followed on Twitter and Facebook.

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2016 Presidential Campaign Bill O'reilly Crime Donald Trump Gop Planned Parenthood Racism Ted Cruz