Potential GOP presidential candidates and Republican strategists are busy whetting a new "dog whistle" on race issues that Democrats say will be used to try to scare white, independent voters in 2024.
The mantra, "America is not a racist country," has been used by nearly all of the 2024 Republican hopefuls, Politico reports, as they attempt to harness the wedge issues of critical race theory and "defund the police."
"By forcing Democrats to defend the rhetoric of the left, Republicans hope to tap into a vein of discontent that is already surfacing in suburbs where debates over racial equity initiatives in schools and the focus on systemic racism are roiling parents," Politico reports.
The new mantra was unveiled by Black GOP Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina during his official Republican response to President Joe Biden's first joint session of Congress. And it's been discussed privately by GOP strategists during recent events hosted by the Republican National Committee and the Republican Governors Association, with their polls showing that "white Americans are inherently racist" is deeply unpopular, including with independents.
Ed Rogers, a veteran Republican lobbyist and strategist, told Politico that if "you take middle-of-the-road, sort of marginally involved voters, they don't want to be told they're a racist."
Therefore, "it may be reassuring for a presidential contender to tell them that they aren't," Politico reports.
Another Republican strategist said the mantra works because it's "part of what (former president Donald) Trump's counter was when he was on the rise. It was simple — Make America Great Again, proud to be an American. It's not approaching every problem in America as if we did something wrong, we're awful."
Jaime Harrison, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, called the strategy "Lee Atwater stuff," referring to the infamous former RNC chair, "which is dog whistles."
"This is why they talk about The 1619 Project, this is why they talk about CRT [critical race theory] and everything else, other than the things that really have an impact on the lives of the American people," Harrison said. "So now, what they go back to is the old … let's figure out how we can demonize, we can energize the rural white folks against Black folks or against brown folks. That's why they talk about immigration. That's why they talk about the racial stuff, because it is the party of division and getting people, and particularly white folks, afraid of ethnic minorities. And it's sad, it's shameful."