By Guest Contributor: Bel Leong-Hong, Chair of the Democratic National Committee’s AAPI Caucus
Three years ago today, the Republican National Committee released a report as part of their “Growth and Opportunity Project,” known as the GOP Autopsy, explaining their overwhelming losses in the 2012 election. When it came to the issues that matter to the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, the autopsy vowed to embrace comprehensive immigration reform and recommended that the GOP be more inclusive of the community in party messaging and flexibility in party policies. Basically, it recommended they be more like Democrats.
But it seems that the GOP has thrown this autopsy out the window, because the fear-mongering and anti-immigrant rhetoric has actually gotten worse since 2012, as often demonstrated by their presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump.
In 2012, Mitt Romney called us a nation of freeloaders and proposed that undocumented immigrants self-deport. Former Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra aired a racist ad during his campaign for the U.S. Senate featuring an offensive, fake Asian-American accent. This year, Republican candidates are promoting the same problematic ideologies, only more extreme. Ted Cruz proposed deporting all 12 million undocumented immigrants currently in the US (including children and DREAMers) and an end to birthright citizenship. All of the candidates have said they would get rid of DACA and DAPA. Trump has called for a ban on all Muslims entering the U.S. and a database to track Muslims already here. It is absolutely abhorrent and terrifying that a current presidential candidate in our country would suggest a policy akin to that of an authoritarian regime. What’s worse, this kind of Republican rhetoric isn’t just confined to national politics, Republican Congresswoman Barbara Comstock of Virginia suggested that immigrants should be tracked like Fed Ex packages. Needless to say, there would be no hope of comprehensive immigration reform under Republican leadership.
And what about the GOP Autopsy’s goal of simply using more inclusive language toward women and people of color? We certainly haven’t seen a shred of evidence that this was ever put into practice by any of the past or present Republican candidates. Donald Trump accused a female reporter of having “blood coming out of her wherever” and John Kasich said that “women left their kitchens” to participate in the political process. This after alarming and ignorant assertions by 2012 Senate candidates that pregnancies as a result of rape were “something God intended to happen” and that “legitimate rape” does not result in pregnancy. At a campaign rally in Iowa, Donald Trump mocked Asians using a fake, broken-English accent. Both he and Jeb Bush have referred to the children of immigrants as “anchor babies.” Carly Fiorina resorted to stereotyping an entire culture for political gain by saying, “The Chinese can take a test, but what they can’t do is innovate. They are not terribly imaginative. They’re not entrepreneurial.”
The Republican Party, with Donald Trump as its leader, has taken the fear-mongering and victim blaming to a new level. We watch as Constitutional rights like freedom of the press are threatened by Trump’s treatment of journalists and how freedom of speech is thrown out along with protesters of color at campaign events. The Republican National Committee has not explicitly denounced Trump’s crowd tactics, instead blaming protesters for the violence inflicted on them and had called Trump a “net positive” for the GOP.
As Democrats, we plan to fight the GOP’s divisive rhetoric and backwards policies all the way to the election. We are the party of progress, growth and innovation, and we will win because the Republican Party has walked away from its reform plan, just as it has walked away from women and communities of color long ago.
Bel Leong-Hong is the Democratic National Committee’s AAPI Caucus Chair. She is a first generation Chinese American who fled the rise of Communism in both China and Cuba and served a distinguished 30 year career in the U.S. government. She is a business owner and serves as a fierce advocate of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
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