During every election season, a new right wing lie seems to pop up. What happened to running on a platform of ideas, Qasim asks.
When was the last time the Republican Party ran on a platform of ideas over lies? While lying is as old as politics itself, the combination of right-wing media, right-wing politicians, and effective propaganda campaigns have taken it to a new level. President Bush launched his presidency with the lie that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction—and leveraged that lie throughout his presidency to entrench America in never ending wars.
Then in July 2010, Oklahoma Republicans passed the first “anti-Shariah” legislation. Nearly two dozen Republican majority states followed suit with their own similar versions. This was based on the lie that Islamic “Shariah” law was creeping into American courts. Federal, district and appeals courts repeatedly struck down these discriminatory bills as unconstitutional. But the damage was done and the Republican Party’s propaganda campaigns took on new life.
Starting in the late 2000s and running in tandem with the “creeping Shariah” lie, the racist birtherism conspiracy theory continued to eat away at public confidence in President Obama. Then failed reality TV host Donald Trump used this lie to his advantage, raising his own profile while advancing racist hate and discord.
As a result, the birtherism lie would remain in the headlines throughout most of President Obama’s presidency. As failed reality TV host Trump became candidate Trump, he seemed to oscillate between supporting and rejecting the birthirism lie—ultimately shifting his focus to a new propaganda campaign altogether. From a hotel press conference in December 2015, candidate Trump declared that Mexicans were rapists invading America, and Muslims were terrorists who needed to be banned from America.
Embracing Right Wing Lies
To this day, the Republican Party continues to embrace these dangerous and racist myths. They justify horrific caging and separating of children at the border, rationalize selling weapons used to bomb Yemeni civilians, and of course as a reason for the bigoted Muslim Ban. In response, America has seen a massive spike in anti-Immigrant, racist, and anti-Muslim hate crimes over the past 5 years.
When asked whether he’d concede if he lost to Hillary Clinton in 2016, then-candidate Trump refused to confirm that he would. Upon realizing he very well could lose to Joe Biden in 2020, Trump and the Republican Party aggressively increased their Big Lie of a rigged election—ultimately inspiring a deadly white supremacist led insurrection on the US Capitol. To this day, despite zero evidence of a fraudulent or stolen election, the Republican Party continues to push this dangerous narrative as an excuse to introduce more than 400 voter suppression bills.
In 2021, Republicans have launched yet another lie, this time about Critical Race Theory, a lie I thoroughly addressed and debunked earlier. From the “Iraq has weapons of mass destruction,” lie to the “Critical Race Theory is anti-white,” lie, each Republican lie has deteriorated international security and safety, American democracy, and public trust in government and media. Worst of all, over the past two decades the Republican Party has passed no healthcare reform, no education reform, no meaningful infrastructure bills, and no climate justice bills. They have, repeatedly, passed tax cuts for billionaires while 80% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck and poverty is at a 60-year high.
What About Voting Rights?
Despite my criticism, I happily give Republicans due credit on one important matter. In 2006, a Republican joined Democrats in the House to pass the Voting Rights Act 330-30, a Republican-led Senate passed the Voting Rights Act 98-0, and a Republican President Bush signed it into law. But this is perhaps the modern Republican Party’s biggest coverup of all: It’s not just that they oppose the Democratic Party—the modern Republican Party opposes democracy itself.
After all, why else in 2021 would Republicans unanimously vote to block the precise voting rights they unanimously supported just 15 years prior? It’s because the modern Republican Party is telling us by their actions the painful truth that they are no longer interested in democracy. And that truth is why every Republican politician who continues to run on these lies needs to be voted out of office forever.
Qasim Rashid is a human rights lawyer, author, and Truman National Security Project Fellow. Follow him on Twitter @QasimRashid.