The Republican Party platform has been based on racist, bigoted, and misogynistic dog whistles for decades. However, since former president Barack Obama was elected, the use of coded language has become slightly more overt with each passing year. The first debate among eight Republican presidential candidates yesterday made that abundantly clear.

Years ago, when they realized that their disdain for non-white people wasn’t a deal-breaker for conservative voters, being covert with their hate is no longer necessary. There’s no better example of this than Florida where myriad bigoted laws were passed this year. It seems that voters who supported Ron DeSantis weren’t bothered by any of his bigoted policies, yet, they’re turning on him because white women may lose their alimony, firefighters no longer get season passes to Disney, and business owners aren’t able to find the help they need to fill empty positions.

While highlighting how hate and bigotry affect white people, Floridians have created the most recent instance of white America either ignoring or agreeing with the intolerance of their elected leaders because they feel like it will benefit them more than marginalized communities. Nearly everything about the first Republican debate exposed this as it was based on various aspects of the “white extinction” conspiracy theory like the laws in Florida are.

Yes, there were three non-white people on stage giving us the appearance of diversity. But as soon as they opened their mouths their views became linear. Using less than overt dog whistles, every participant attacked women’s rights, racial and social justice movements, the LGBTQ community, non-white communities, the impoverished, immigrants from the Global South, and the working class – all of which keep the country moving and growing.

In one way or another, they attacked every single voter. Yet, their conservative supporters will overlook most of it because they want to attack the communities mentioned above – whether it hurts them or not. They know that historically, marginalized communities will suffer much more – both economically and socially – than they will. And that’s the point for far too many voters. This is also why so many are willing to overlook former president Donald Trump’s attempted coup.


The current wave of white nationalism in the West is an epidemic that has reached a dangerous level in the U.S. It’s no longer about hate groups on the streets. The slickest ones among those who view issues through a lens of racial and social animus towards people not like them are running for office. That was made evident last night.

Nearly every issue led the candidates to mention the Southern Border. While never touching on actual policies – aside from building a wall and using money we’re sending to Ukraine to pay for it – the attack on migrants for everything that ails the U.S. was noticeable. Since news outlets won’t focus on this, I think it’s vital that we do. Numerous Democrats and liberal voters seem to have taken a position that allows for many inhumane immigration policies and it needs to stop.

If a policy is bad, it’s bad. Many more liberal voters claim Biden’s policies aren’t as bad as former president Trump’s policies, but they’re nearly as cruel, and in some cases, much worse than the policies of the former president’s administration. The Republicans on that stage last night want to take current policy and make it more extreme than MAGA cronies are pushing for.

From murdering migrants they suspect of smuggling drugs in backpacks (a rarity in comparison to how much comes through ports of entry) and imposing a naval embargo (whatever that means) to sending special forces into Mexico targeting drug cartels and imposing the death penalty for drug smugglers, we heard nothing about U.S. citizens being some of the biggest traffickers and smugglers of both drugs and humans.

The real crisis in the U.S. is caused and maintained by its citizens.

There was also no mention of the efforts the Biden administration has taken to try and address the cause of migration from the Global South to the U.S. However, they never discuss how U.S. policy in the hemisphere is the direct cause behind millions of people making the treacherous journey to the United States. The U.S. makes many promises and routinely fails to fulfill those promises giving populations in the Global South false hopes.

It behooves the United States government to allow migrants from countries it is directly involved in disrupting. From Cuba to Latin America and Africa, the U.S. is responsible for much of the instability in dozens of countries and far too many voters fail to acknowledge that because our news media has the same stakes as the government: forcing U.S. corporate interests on nations with resources the West needs. Thus, making a handful of people richer than they already are while impoverishing millions upon millions of people.

Western nations continue to have the same colonialist interests as they’ve ever had and they use genocide, cultural erasure, and military oppression to achieve those aims. In Africa and Latin America, many nations are taking a leftward turn in order to offset the far-right turn the U.S. is taking. So much so that they’re creating their own development banks that the West isn’t allowed to participate in. A bold move that has bigoted U.S. politicians freaking out.

Social and Racial Justice

Everyone on that stage took a stance against social and racial justice and they dog-whistled their way through it. Vivek Ramaswamy brought out the topic of putting more cops on the street, giving them even more funding, and protecting them from being recorded and held accountable for their actions – clear jabs at Black Lives Matter and public accountability movements. 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis invoked George Soros – who is the subject of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories – as he talked about “progressive” district attorneys. He falsely claimed that the prosecutors he targeted are turning a blind eye to crime in major cities – a dog-whistle associating criminality with the inner city (read: Black people) that has been used for decades.

Ramaswamy also conjured up the old trope about fatherlessness being caused by the welfare system giving mothers more assistance if the father is out of the home which contributes to higher crime rates. It’s another anti-Black dog whistle that’s meant to detract from the issues – such as poverty – that directly contribute to crime in every community in the U.S.

We would be doing a disservice if we didn’t talk about the denials of climate change we saw last night. An issue that disproportionately impacts Black, Indigenous, Latino, and poor communities. In addition, Ramaswamy also felt compelled to mention how the U.S. is in a cultural civil war which helps further drive the divide. This is the same language that extremists use and promote online and it seems that the candidates are all echoing it.

If the intention was to stoke fear and further divisions, they accomplished that.

In the end, last night’s debate was a heaping pile of shit dumped on the voting public. Former president Trump’s little interview with Tucker Carlson was even worse as they too discussed civil war and used a host of dog whistles to provoke his supporters into doing something violent. Despite all the internal issues this country has, thanks in large part to the ridiculous culture wars coming from fragile conservative thought, they laid the blame for just about everything, including the war in Ukraine, on their current favorite strawman: immigrants from the Global South.

And that was not an accident. It’s only a matter of time before extremists do something due to divisive conservative rhetoric. Make no mistake, using language that could trigger another mass murderer – like we’ve seen so many times before – is absolutely intentional. Fearmongering and sowing chaos may be the only way they can win. That’s the conservative way.

The political right needs to stop falling for it.

The Antagonist Magazine is a project made up of journalists, activists, and writers focused on amplifying the stories of marginalized communities. The goal is to educate the public by sharing narratives focused on independent voices. Born of an online community in 2019, our platform operates independently; free of corporate influence. Please consider supporting the work of dozens of writers from various communities.

Arturo Dominguez

Arturo is an anti-racist political nerd. He is an upcoming author, journalist, advocate for social justice, and a married father of three. He is a top writer on Medium and a regular contributor to several news media outlets. He writes educational and informative material about systemic racism, white supremacy, and racial injustice.

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