The Evening Leader
Republican Senate candidates promote ‘replacement’ theory
NEW YORK (AP) — A half-dozen mainstream Republican Senate candidates are drawing on the “great replacement” conspiracy theory once confined to the far-right fringes of U.S. politics to court voters this campaign season, promoting the baseless notion that there is a plot to diminish the influence of white people in America.
In some cases, the comments have gone largely overlooked given the hard-line immigration rhetoric that has become commonplace among conservatives during the Trump era. But a weekend mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, that may have been inspired by the racist theory is drawing new attention to the GOP’s growing embrace of white nationalist creed.
Three weeks ago in Arizona, Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters accused Democrats of trying to flood the nation with millions of immigrants “to change the demographics of our country.” A few days later in Missouri, Senate hopeful Eric Schmitt, the state attorney general, said Democrats were “fundamentally trying to change this country through illegal immigration.” And in Ohio, Republican Senate nominee JD Vance accused Democrats of trying to “transform the electorate.”
Warning of an immigrant “invasion,” Vance told Fox News Channel that Democrats “have decided that they can’t win reelection in 2022 unless they bring a large number of new voters to replace the voters that are already here.”
Five experts on hate speech who reviewed the Republican candidates’ comments confirmed that they promote the baseless racist theory, even though the Republicans don’t mention race directly.
“Comments like these demonstrate two essential features of great replacement conspiracy theory. They predict racial doomsday, saying that it is all part of an orchestrated master plan. It’s only the language that has been softened,” said American University professor Brian Hughes, associate director of the Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab. “The basic story they tell is the same one we see in white supremacist chats across the internet: An enemy is orchestrating doom for white Americans by plotting to fill the country with nonwhites.”
Indeed, a mainstream interpretation of replacement theory in the U.S. baselessly suggests Democrats are encouraging immigration from Latin America so more like-minded potential voters replace “traditional” Americans, says Mark Pitcavage, senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism.
Shortly after taking office, Trump shared a social media post from someone with the username WhiteGenocideTM.
Replacement theory is being investigated as a motivating factor in the Buffalo supermarket shooting, which killed 10 Black people and left three other people injured.
President Joe Biden condemned replacement theory directly — and those who spread it, although he did not name names — after meeting with victims’ families Tuesday in Buffalo.
“Hate, that through the media, and politics, the internet, has radicalized angry, alienated, lost and isolated individuals into falsely believing that they will be replaced — that’s the word, ‘replaced’ — by the others, by people who don’t look like them,” Biden charged.
A day earlier, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., was more specific in his criticism.
“Unfortunately, with each year, it seems harder and harder to ignore that the outcomes of replacement theory and other racially motivated views are increasingly coming out into the open and given purported legitimacy by some MAGA Republicans and cable news pundits,” Schumer said.
“It’s dangerous,” he added. “It’s poisoning minds.”
In interviews with conservative national television and radio over the last year, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson has called replacement theory “the Democrat grand plan.”
“I’ve got to believe they want to change the makeup of the electorate,” he told a Minneapolis-area conservative radio host last month.
The Johnson campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
In Ohio, Vance has already secured a place on the November ballot. He won Trump’s endorsement after embracing many of the former president’s hardline views, including those related to immigration.
Vance told Breitbart News last month that Democrats are trying to give 15 million immigrants in the country illegally the right to vote. “They are trying to transform the electorate of this country,” he said.
He made similar comments days later at a town hall in Portsmouth, Ohio.
The Vance campaign declined to comment.