If you’re a rich, corporate-serving Trump Republican who’s been in the U.S. House so long and done so little that you’re essentially seen as a piece of congressional furniture, what do you do to save yourself when faced back home with a popular, well-organized, grassroots opponent who’s about to overtake you?
Of course, do what President Trump does: Unleash your inner racist to assail your challenger as a demonic civil-liberties zealot who’ll let hordes of Black, Latino and other “criminal elements” rampage through White neighborhoods. This is the old, shameful Jim Crow political tactic that endangered Republican incumbents across the country are now resorting to in a panicky effort to deflect attention from their own ugly records of Trumpian servility.
Long-term Texas congressman Michael McCaul has become a poster boy of this partisan sleaze. Poor Michael is used to strolling to victory, but — oops — in September, with only weeks to go in his reelection race, he suddenly found himself in a dead heat with Democrat Mike Siegel. This lawyer and former school teacher’s progressive-populist program of “Medicare for All,” worker and environmental protections, human rights over corporate greed, etcetera, has forged a growing and enthusiastic movement for change.
So, up pops McCaul with a last-minute, down-and-dirty million-dollar TV blitz howling that Siegel is a crazed criminal-justice radical who’ll shut down the police and empty prisons. McCaul himself doesn’t appear in this ludicrous dog-whistle piece of racist fabrication. Instead, he has put a White Republican constable (wearing his official uniform) on camera to do his dirty work. Calling Siegel dangerous, the partisan constable cartoonishly tries to gin up voter fear: “Take it from me,” he dramatically intones, “Mike Siegel is a threat to your family.”