A depressing return to a well-worn election playbook — because it works

It’s no surprise that fear of the other — of what they want and what they might do to you and yours — is on the ballot in November.

Former President George H.W. Bush’s success in making Willie Horton the figurative running mate of his Democratic opponent, Michael Dukakis, has nothing on race-baiting, the 2022 edition. In a close midterm election cycle, attack ads and accusations aimed at Black candidates, or any candidate that might be interested in restorative justice, are front and center, as Republicans running for office have returned to the playbook, one that unfortunately has worked time and again.

To many, Black people are viewed with suspicion straight out of the womb, and I’m only slightly exaggerating. Data backs me up. Just look at the greater percentage of Black boys and girls suspended or arrested for school infractions that earn white peers a lecture or visit to the principal’s office. Take note of the litany of unarmed Black people shot or choked by trained police officers who “feared for their lives,” with no benefit of the doubt to save them.

Even when the Black person under the microscope is educated and accomplished and has reached the highest of heights, the “othering” doesn’t go away. If the person can’t be tagged a criminal, he or she must be sympathetic to criminals. Guilt by historical association, you might say, because the tactic can be traced back hundreds of years, when dehumanizing Black people, connecting them to violence and crime, was the best way to justify murder, rape and lynching.

As Margaret A. Burnham, a law professor who founded the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project at Northeastern University, points out in her book “By Hands Now Known: Jim Crow’s Legal Executioners,” throughout American history it was whites — bus drivers, store owners, ordinary people — who perpetrated random terror against Black people without consequence.

For the best example of predominantly white mob violence in the past few years, you need look no further than the videos and other evidence of windows and doors smashed, American institutions defiled and law enforcement beaten and attacked on Jan. 6, 2021. The goal was lawlessness, the overturning of a free and fair election.

I might add that it was left to mostly minority government employees to clean up the literal mess.

But stubborn facts won’t get in the way when there is political hay to be made.

A majority of Americans will have election deniers on the ballot. What could this mean for the future?

Donald Trump’s name is not on the ballot this November, but his ideology certainly is.

As the former president continues to spread misinformation about the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election, FiveThirtyEight reports that 60% of U.S. voters are to have someone who either casts doubt or completely denies the results from 2020 on the ballot in 2022.

This all comes while restrictive legislation is being pushed across the country in the name of election security and the Supreme Court is considering cases that impact voting and our democratic process.

Mike Collins and our panel of guests look at the short and long-term impact these election deniers may have in Congress and what it says about our republic.

GUESTS

Susan Roberts, political science professor at Davidson College

Nathaniel Rakich, senior elections analyst at FiveThirtyEight

Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com, host of the Roll Call podcast “Equal Time”