Republicans have a way of relying on scapegoats when their plans don’t work out as expected. There are so many go-to GOP scapegoats, it would be impossible to name them all here. I’m sure many of you have your favorites: Black Lives Matter, the EPA, feminists, climatologists, Islam, income taxes, Michael Moore, Hillary Clinton, and anybody who ever says the words “gun control." If you can name it, they can blame it.
In no particular order, here are eight of the GOP’s favorite scapegoats.
1. Transgender people
It’s no secret that the GOP is the antithesis of queer-friendly, and the latest arm of this prejudice is aimed at the transgender community. Widespread attention to the issue came in 2016, when North Carolina Republican governor Pat McCrory signed a statewide policy that bans people from using public bathrooms that do not correspond to their biological sex. Similar bathroom bills are being proposed in Texas and elsewhere across the country. Most recently, Trump signed an executive order effectively banning transgender service people from serving in the nation’s armed forces, in an ostensible effort to minimize unnecessary medical costs and interpersonal confusion and disruption. You know, it’s for “safety.” And Making America Great Again.
2. Planned Parenthood
Millions of low-income women depend on Planned Parenthood’s medical services, from pap smears and birth control to cancer screenings and abortion services. The organization has been demonized by the GOP in recent years for facilitating the transfer of fetal tissue for medical research. While Trump has effectively defunded Planned Parenthood for a year, what’s most concerning now is that a bill making it easier for individual states to defund PP is also a priority of the Trump administration. Naturally, this work reverses President Barack Obama’s effort to shield Planned Parenthood’s funding from state legislatures before his last term ended.
3. George Clooney
The GOP lauds conservative celebrities like Clint Eastwood, and has a glaring distaste for others. From Meryl Streep to Rosie O’Donnell to Alec Baldwin, Republicans don’t care much for the Hollywood elite. Republicans have taken aim at Clooney consistently over the years, and will no doubt deride him for recently taking in a Yazidi refugee from Iraq.
4. Labor Unions
Whenever Republicans are confronted with job stagnation or loss, more often than not, they blame labor unions. They’ve even managed to blame students’ academic performance on teachers' unions. In fact, the only unions they like, unsurprisingly, are police unions. Unions seem to be getting even more than their fair share of derision since the 2016 presidential election; such rhetoric is now widely seen as part of the GOP's ideology as a whole.
5. Barack Obama
If something bad has ever happened in the course of human history, it was clearly Barack Obama’s fault, according to the GOP. The American economy? The complicated inner workings of the health care industry? ISIS? Everything is Obama’s fault. There’s also Trump’s long and foolhardy crusade to prove Obama isn’t an American citizen, thus delegitimizing his presidency. Which brings us to immigration….
While Latinos have never been a favorite with the GOP, prejudice and scapegoating against Latinos has grown under the current administration in virulent and terrifying new ways. Yes, Trump wants to build a wall to keep immigrants out, and he has tried to obliterate DACA, with potentially catastrophic political and social effects. Arguably the scariest part of this bigotry is the fact that far-right groups with white nationalist ties, such as the Center for Immigration Studies and the Federation for Immigration Reform, now have unprecedented access to the White House and more influence to codify prejudice into law.
7. The 'Liberal' Media
Rather than see themselves and their party’s political platform as archaic and untenable, the GOP blames the mainstream, so-called liberal media for influencing the public’s perception, even going so far as to call them the “ultimate super PAC” for the Democratic Party. Apparently, the liberal media is responsible for “spinning” the news in such a way that makes people look unfavorably on the Grand Old Party and its policies.
8. Voter Fraud
Trump intends to finish the pioneering work of finding and eradicating imaginary rampant voter fraud started in 2002 by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft and President George W. Bush. Despite Trump’s claims that millions of votes were fraudulently cast, previous federal probes reveal voter fraud is not widespread; only four cases were documented in the 2016 election. Trump’s “Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity” has only, thus far, revealed how very hollow the GOP’s obsession with voter fraud is. The truth of the matter is they know full well that voter restrictions drive down turnout, which ultimately helps Republicans at the polls.
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