Congressman Dusty Johnson gets the usual unanalytical obsequity from the SDGOP spin blog he sponsors, this time for someone in Texas saying the freshman Representative is working to “diversify” the Republican Party by making it something other than “a party of ‘old white guys.’”
I feel like I could stop here and turn the comment section loose with a challenge to complete this sentence: Dusty Johnson is so white….
But I want to say a few things first.
The claim that Congressman Johnson is “trying to make the party more diverse and inclusive” comes from a Tuesday article in Axios whose main focus is the trouble Texas Republicans face as their red state gets younger, browner, and less susceptible to the Leave-It-to-Beaver messaging of the neo-Klan meeting Republicans are now hosting. The Texas GOP lost two House seats in 2018 and has six incumbents retiring this cycle. Axios quotes multiple Republicans who paint a grim picture for their party unless they find a way to speak to the real Texas and the real America—you know, the diverse ones:
“We need a new Republican Party because the one we have is getting our asses kicked in House races,” one Texas GOP strategist, who works with various campaigns and asked to speak anonymously to be candid, told Axios.
…”It sucks being in the minority, and a lot of these guys haven’t been in the minority since ’06, and they are fearful there isn’t a lot of hope to get the majority back in this cycle,” said Jeff Roe, a Republican political consultant who’s worked with Sen. Ted Cruz.
…”The base is shrinking. Period. End of story,” said Rep. Will Hurd, the only black House Republican, who at 42 will leave office rather seek another term representing his heavily Hispanic district in southwest Texas [Alexi McCammond, “Texas Republicans Admit There’s a Problem,” Axios, 2019.10.01].
Those are the main lines supporting the main thesis of the article, that Texas Republicans are in trouble. When the only sign of hope Texas Republican Hurd can point to of a movement to diversity in the ranks he’s leaving is two mid-40 white guys from states not called Texas, that’s a sign of trouble, not “oh boy! good boy, Dusty!”
But what exactly is Congressman Johnson doing to promote diversity and inclusion among the GOP, either here in South Dakota or nationwide? All we get from the article is, “Hurd said Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Dusty Johnson of South Dakota are two members trying to make the party more diverse and inclusive.”
Well, I’ll give Dusty credit for stopping his South Dakota primariate from sending another Trumpian racist to Washington. But preventing the party from becoming less diverse and inclusive is not the same as trying to make the party more diverse and inclusive. Thank you for not letting your dog poop on my lawn… now how about picking up the poop he left there every day last week?
And don’t forget, Dusty is the Congressman who declared Trump’s fake border emergency bogus but then floated a bill to help Trump build the wall faster by repealing environmental reviews that would lay out all the ecological destruction Trump’s folly would cause. Our man Dusty isn’t winning on diversity for any species there.
I turn to Congressman Johnson’s website, looking at least for some imagery suggesting a tilt toward diversity and inclusion. The lead photo:
Dusty with two old white guys. Nope. Next:
Hey! That’s Aberdeen’s own Twist Cone! Yay! But every cone I see here is vanilla. Next:
Dusty preparing to walk on water? A metaphor for the miracle it will take to make America believe the party of Trump is about diversity and inclusion? Next:
Interns! Call for interns! What a great place to show off the diversity of young people whom our lone Congressman brings to experience the greatest legislative show on Earth! Alas, this banner photo, which appears to be the product of less-skilled interns, given the awkward cropping of body parts in every human picture, still shows nothing but white people’s kids. Next:
Jackpot! Ben Reifel! South Dakota’s first Lakota Congressman! Our man Dusty proposed naming the Post Office in Rosebud for Reifel in May. Incredibly, Congress has taken no action on H.R. 2454. Come on, Congress! Naming Post Offices is what you do best!
In another inclusive shout-out to our tribal neighbors, Congressman Johnson is sponsoring H.R. 895, which would include tribal school employees in federal employee health insurance.
But Congressman Johnson still hasn’t signed on to H.R. 3467, the measure to rescind the Medals of Honor awarded to the butchers of Reifel’s ancestors at Wounded Knee. Come on, Dusty: sometimes standing for diversity and inclusion requires being a little aggressive. Next:
Well, we got a few more young people, but if there are any minority students in this photo, they are blocked by the well-cropped Anglo boy in front. And all of the young people sit passively in straight lines as Dusty does all the talking. The metaphor for inclusion here is wanting.
Overall, Dusty’s website-welcome photos show more diversity in fonts than in people. So wherever outgoing Representative Hurd sees his fellow 43-year-old plainsman fighting for diversity in policy or in his party, he doesn’t say. And whatever Congressman Johnson may be doing isn’t enough to outweigh the loss the Republican Party has inflicted on itself by sidelining Hurd’s moderate, inclusive voice with its embrace or Trumpist racism:
Before Trump’s election, Hurd was seen as a rising star in a party that had been seeking to broaden its appeal beyond white voters. But as Republicans largely rallied around the president’s strategy of stoking racial and ethnic divisions, Hurd became a more and more lonely voice of moderation on issues such as immigration and the border. He was first elected in 2014 and won his reelection bid last year by just 1,000 votes in a district that Hillary Clinton narrowly carried in 2016. Hurd’s retirement immediately makes Democrats favored to pick up his seat next fall, according to congressional forecasters. With Hurd’s departure, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina will be the only elected black Republican in the Capitol [Russell Berman, “Will Hurd Could Be the Canary in the Coal Mine,” The Atlantic, 2019.08.02].
So on dual levels, Dakota War College‘s cheap retweet of Hot Air‘s lazy forward of Axios‘s actual reporting misses the story. DWC grabs a bottom bullet point with no warrant for its claim, and the claim itself is a rhetorical mouse, barely peeking out from beneath the big collapsing elephant that is the center of the actual story. Dusty Johnson is fighting for more diversity and inclusion in the Republican Party? Please, DWC, tell us how… and then tell us how that pipping, squeaking effort will be heard above the roaring racist trumpet of your dear wrinkly leader in his (and your) desperate death throes.