Racists, RedState, and the GOP Netroots

Matt Stoler asserts that the reason that the Republican Party does not work as closely with its “netroots” as the Democrats with theirs is that,

The RNC cannot afford to embrace their netroots as an audience because of the increasingly extreme and racist nature of  their base.  It’s not Redstate specifically, it is, as Glenn Greenwald notes, their entire pundit class.  Actually, it goes beyond that, to their leadership.  For instance, it’s not just James Dobson embarrassing Republicans anymore; Senator Jeff Sessions, Senator Sam Brownback, and Senate candidate Michael Steele have all compared stem cell research to the holocaust.

But the right-wing blogosphere is where racist and extreme sentiment is most obvious and trackable, it is a veritable steady diet of the stuff.  No matter how persuasive Patrick Ruffini might be, and he seems like a smart fellow, the RNC cannot afford to be tagged with their base sentiment, whether it’s Little Green Footballs calling for nuclear attacks on Muslims (or ‘constitutionally protected hate speech’ as advertisers who don’t want to be associated with the site see it), right-wing and neo-Nazi embraces of extremist groups like the Minutemen, voxday calling rape victims ‘stupid’, or front-pager Blanton at Redstate calling Coretta Scott King’s funeral which President Bush spoke at a ‘Def Comedy Jam spectacle’ with ‘demands for handouts’.


Many Republicans are fine, honest, and hard-working people who care deeply about their country.  I have no doubt that Mike Krempasky falls into that category.  But I spent seven months in New Jersey going through right-wing message boards, I’ve read FreeRepublic.com, and I’ve been to Townhall.com Meetups, and I can tell you that there is a substantial portion of the right-wing base that has, as Redstate community-leader Blanton does, a vicious racist mentality.  

RedState co-founder Mike Krempasky observes that, “If you didn’t notice – our guys beat their guys eight ways from Sunday online in 2004. And if I were a betting man – I’d say tantrums like this are simply going to ensure more of the same.” I would agree.

More to the point, though, I would observe that, if the message boards at FreeRepublic and LGF are Stoler’s guage of the Republican Party’s netroots, then he is seriously missing the boat. For one thing, there’s much worse fare at Democratic Underground, which I would consider their proper analogues. Further, the comments sections and diaries at DailyKos and Eschaton–which from Stoler’s own premise are far more powerful than any Republican leaning sites–are filled with reprehensible venom and utter nonsense.

The bottom line is the open communities like unmoderated message boards and blog comments sections are messy and often degenerate into insipid vulgarity. The Republican Party, for a variety of reasons, is less comfortable associating with them than is the Democratic Party.


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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. ken says:

    James, here are the facts.

    1) Despite the efforts of many good people over many years there still are a very large number of racists in America.

    2) Racists are welcomed into the Republican Party. Racists are castigated by the Democratic Party.

    3) The aninimity offered by internet blogs allows these racists to crawl out from under their rocks, so to speak, and become more visible.

    4) Republican leadership may not desire to be closely identified with such overt racism. They are exerts in couching their appeals to these people in hints and codes that provide an innocent veneer to their vile conservative philosophy.

  2. James Joyner says:


    1) True

    2) Based on what evidence?

    3) True

    4) True. Based on what evidence?

  3. ICallMasICM says:

    ‘2) Racists are welcomed into the Republican Party. Racists are castigated by the Democratic Party. ‘

    Utter and complete bullshit. All Democrat social policy is based on blatant racism.

    ‘They are exerts in couching their appeals to these people in hints and codes that provide an innocent veneer to their vile conservative philosophy. ‘

    Such as we believe all people should be treated equally?

  4. Fersboo says:

    Where is my Kleagle Kap? Oh yeah, I let Senator Byrd (D-WV) borrow it.

  5. ken says:

    James, I usually make it a rule not to bother trying to educate the ignorant. After all you have the same access to the facts via the Internet as I do. I am particularly discouraged in such endeavour when dealing with someone of relatively high intelligence, as demonstrated by the ability to write coherently, as you can. So I do not believe there is any excuse for someone in your position to be ignorant of such basic information as what I laid out in my post.

    Knowing this will in all probability this will not work, since a student must be willing to have an open mind to take in knowledge, I will try to at least point you in the right direction:

    -Proposition 187

    -Texas redistricting

    -The McCain smear

    -Republican Party active hostility to minimum wage increases, to affirmative action, to any and all anti-discrimination either on the books or proposed.

    Investigate these issues (there are hundreds of others) and you will see why a racist would believe himself welcomed by the Republican Party but opposed by the Democratic Party. After you are done, just ask yourself: What party would a racist join?

  6. Guesst says:

    Using Free Republic as the standard by which to gauge “extremism” tends to undermine the validity of the points being made, or scored.


  7. James Joyner says:


    So, you’re defining “racism” as

      -Belief in enforcing immigration laws (which Hillary Clinton supports)

      -The use of demographic data when gerrymandering districts for partisan purposes (which both parties have done for decades)

      -Denying that economic voodoo works

      -Opposition to using race as a factor in hiring and academic admissions

    A rather odd definition.

  8. ken says:

    James, you make my point for me. You obviously spent no time in either researching these issues or thinking about how they relate to racism in America.

    It is futile to try to provide information to the willfully ignorant.

  9. floyd says:

    such barely precedented crapulence, wow!

  10. Moe Lane says:

    Generally speaking, James, we crypto-fascist, racist, incestuous neo-theo-Zioncons* over at Redstate find that it’s much simpler to ban people the second time that they toss personal insults at their host.

    Just saying, that’s all.


    *We also eat baby harp seals. Raw and kicking. Then wipe our faces with the Constitution afterwards.

  11. legion says:

    From David Duke to Jesse Helms to Trent Lott to Tom Tancredo, plotting points of Republican “leadership” on a graph draws a pretty clear line.

    You guys may not consider yourselves racist, but there’s little doubt (certainly none in the minds of actual minorities, whether racial or sexual) that the GOP wants nothing good for them.

  12. Brett says:

    Democratic Underground worse than LGF and the freepers? Really? Based on what standard?

  13. James Joyner says:

    Brett: I don’t spend much time at any of the sites. LGF directs its antipathy at global terrorists rather than domestic targets.

  14. Wayne says:

    racist person: somebody who hates others who are not of his or her own race

    The only party that openly welcomes racist person is the democrat. You have the Jessie Jackson and the Al Sharptons among others who are in your party. The democrats are the ones who want to give special rights and benefits to someone solely because of the color of their skins. DonÂ’t give me that lame argument that a minority canÂ’t be racist or prejudiced. Every one of us belongs in some way to a minority and majority group. Judging someone because of the color of his or her skin is racist regardless of who is doing it.

  15. McGehee says:

    You obviously spent no time in either researching these issues or thinking about how they relate to racism in America.

    Or maybe he did enough research and thinking to reach his conclusions, years before you showed up on his blog to “educate” him?

    Nah, couldn’t be.

  16. James, it gets better – he sees the Democratic netroots – at Kos, Eschaton, and MyDD – as mainstream.

    I’ll be posting on this tonight…


  17. just me says:

    Don’t think it was the GOP that had a former klansmen as the majority leader.

  18. floyd says:

    wayne; incorrect definition; it should also read because of that persons race.what’s all the fuss about anyway, the left preaches tolerance which is impossible without aversion? besides hyperbole is becoming an american tradition these days.we’ve watered down definitions to the point that words have no clear meaning. debate is becoming debabble and sounds more and more like a terrified barnyard. some even claim the sky IS falling!!

  19. G A PHILLIPS says:

    Dear Mr. Ken, dude, who freed the slaves, who got the civil rights laws passed, and who has appointed minorities to some some of the highest positions of power in our government, three simple questions for you? dude I grew up with all colors and creeds, I did not even know what a racist was till some liberal jackass taught me social studies in Jr. high. Oh, and Herb I guess you were right its like beating a dead horse with this guy.