Thursday, April 21, 2022

Replacement Theory And Trump Supporters

As displayed at the beginning of the recent Young Turks video below, three months ago Tucker Carlson wailed

The left and all the gatekeepers on Twitter become literally hysterical if you use the term "replacement," if you suggest the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots....

The Democratic Party is not trying to replace or reduce the electorate, but instead to expand the electorate. Tucker continues

... with new people more obedient, voters from the third world. But they become hysterical because that's what's happening, actually. Let's just say if that's true. So this matters on a bunch of different levels but on the most basic level, it's a voting rights question. If you change the population you dilute the political power of the people who live there so every time they import more voters, I become disenfranchised as a current voter....

Carlson does not lose the right to vote. His followers don't lose the right to vote. And what is happening is not importing more voters but allowing individuals constitutionally and legally eligible to vote to continue to vote.

In case you thought that Tucker was referring to race when he said "import" and "Third World," he wants you to know

So I don't understand why you don't understand this. I mean, everyone wants to make a racial issue out of it. Oh, you know, the white replacement there- no, no, this is a voting rights question.

Carlson uses not a dog whistle but a blow to the head when he invokes "replacement" theory, a term and concept reinvigorated by author Renaud Camus in his 2011 book “Le Grand Remplacement.” The French news network France 24 last year explained that.

Rooted in racist nationalist views, the great replacement theory purports that an elitist group is colluding against white French and European people to eventually replace them with non-Europeans from Africa and the Middle East, the majority of whom are Muslim. Renaud Camus often refers to this as “genocide by substitution”.

Notions of the theory date as far back as 1900, when the father of French nationalism Maurice Barrès spoke about a new population that would take over, triumph and “ruin our homeland”.

In an article for daily newspaper Le Journal, he wrote: “The name of France might well survive; the special character of our country would, however, be destroyed, and the people settled in our name and on our territory would be heading towards destinies contradictory to the destinies and needs of our land and our dead."

At the time Barrès was writing, “anti-Semitism was extremely mainstream”, says Dr. Aurelien Mondon, a senior lecturer of politics at Bath University in an interview with FRANCE 24. “Barrès spoke about the idea of racial purity,” he says, which is why the theory of population replacement became so popular among the Nazis, for example.

But after World War II, the French far right needed a new discourse to move back into the mainstream. Shifting away from biological racism towards cultural racism, the replacement theory gained ground in the 1970s and 1980s.

“The Nouvelle Droite (New Right) and some French intellectuals were trying to find ways to move away from the margins,” Mondon says. Over the years, these ideas spread among the far right, which was becoming more and more mainstream in France, eventually paving the way for Camus to publish his book on the topic without being disregarded as too radical.

“Camus didn’t invent anything,” Mondon explains. “He put concepts together and coined the phrase, but his theory is part of a much broader context that contributed to the reshaping of the far right [in France.”

With the far-right Marie Le Pen currently posing a serious threat to Emmanuel Macron and democracy in France, the movement has newly taken on added importance. However, it helps make clearer the self-deception engaged in by Trump supporters who believe their hero won the 2020 presidential election. Sarah Longwell writes

I regularly host focus groups to better understand how voters are thinking about key political topics. Recently, I decided to find out why Trump 2020 voters hold so strongly to the Big Lie.

For many of Trump’s voters, the belief that the election was stolen is not a fully formed thought. It’s more of an attitude, or a tribal pose. They know something nefarious occurred but can’t easily explain how or why.

The anti-Trump Republican Longwell concludes

These voters aren’t bad or unintelligent people. The problem is that the Big Lie is embedded in their daily life. They hear from Trump-aligned politicians, their like-minded peers, and MAGA-friendly media outlets—and from these sources they hear the same false claims repeated ad infinitum.

Now we are at the point where to be a Republican means to believe the Big Lie. And as long as Republicans leading the party keep promoting and indulging the Big Lie, that will continue to be the case. If I’ve learned anything from my focus groups, it’s that something doesn’t have to make sense for voters to believe it’s true.

As Longwell notes, the GOP does promote and indulge the "Big Lie" and these voters aren't unintelligent. Yet, they claim "flipped" votes overnight after polls closed; mail-in ballots as a "crock;" a "fixed" election; or  "something just doesn't feel right."  Scorned (or so they believe) for being Trump voters- and maybe for being racist- they won't be as forthright as Tucker Carlson, who has his own reasons for peddling racially divisive ideas.

Longwell concedes the Trump voters hear "false claims repeated ad infinitum" from "Trump-aligned politicians, their like-minded peers, and MAGA-friendly media outlets."   Nonetheless, she maintains "these voters aren't bad or unintelligent people," and she's right about the latter.

But something is at work, and if it's not stupidity, Longwell needs to recognize that a person doesn't have to be a flat-out racist to be at least somewhat malevolent. If asked if liberals voted twice, immigrants voted illegally, or blacks were pressured by Democrats, many of her interviewees would have sounded a lot like Tucker Carlson. They are not helpless pawns, but have found a like-minded spokesman for their electoral interests.


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