David Duke is thinking of entering the race for the Republican nominee for President. Sure, Huffpo noticed, and The Atlantic, The Daily Beast, and The Forward. No word from the core of the mainstream media, and no word yet on how Mr. Duke will be received by either the Republican establishment, the voters, or the Tea Partiers. Let me take a deep breath and speculate.
The Republican establishment will not like David Duke entering the race. He’ll taint their brand. Sure, the Republicans don’t get vote from African Americans, and they don’t get huge votes from Jews, but even then the GOP doesn’t want to be seen in the company of the Grand Poobah of Hate. Why? I’m sure David Duke agreed when Ronald Reagan complained about welfare queens on the campaign trail 35 years ago, and when George H. W. Bush campaigned using Willie Horton 12 years later. Few Republicans complained about the racism of the Tea Partiers (that Tea Party racism is all the rage, you know), and many joined the birthers, whose raison d’etre seems to be racism. Let’s not forget the racist core of the nativist anti-immigration movements the Republicans support, either, or the GOP-led return of Jim Crow laws. How doesn’t David Duke fit into the Republican ethos? Sure, the GOP may be desperately trying to keep the brand clean of the stain of racism, but one doesn’t do that merely by condemning a David Duke.
Hey, the KKK has been working on its brand, too. As noted in the HuffPo article, they might protest Westboro Baptist, but they still agree that gay citizens don’t deserve any rights in our country. More worrying is the video David Duke is using to promote his candidacy. . . is there any difference between this platform and that of most any other GOP candidate? From bestofneworleans.com:
His platform: welfare and campaign finance reforms, not letting “Israel or any nation dictate our foreign policy,” re-deploying troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, stopping all immigration, stopping international banks, abolishing the Federal Reserve and affirmative action, and promoting “American values” in the media.
I’m not trying to be alarmist here. However, it is clear to me that the “rights” rhetoric of David Duke, and how he complains of African Americans having “special rights,” is echoed in the anti-gay campaigns of the National Organization for Marriage (these folks seem in tune with Michele Bachmann’s husband). And, no, I am not fooled by the few crossover votes in New York by Republicans that that party is growing soft on gay rights issues. No, I don’t at all expect rich Republicans to advocate for gay citizens acraoss the country as they did in New York.
Sure, Gambit notes that there are impediments to David Duke actually being eligible to run for President, but the issue here isn’t whether Duke can run or not. For him it is how he distinguishes himself from the rest of the Republicans. His platform, as extremist as we progressives see it to be, is just not out of the GOP mainstream. It’s not going to be easy for David Duke to out-crazy this crowd, after all. Perhaps Duke’s best bet is to pretend he’s Mitt Romney.