A contingent of far-right House Republicans opposed to Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s speakership bid hitched their wagons Wednesday to Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida, one of the few Black Republicans in the chamber.
After McCarthy, R-Calif., failed to win a majority of votes for a third (humiliating) time, GOP Rep. Chip Roy of Texas nominated Donalds for speaker during the fourth round of voting. A fellow right-wing extremist, Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, nominated Donalds again in the next round.
But it was Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, who chairs the far-right Freedom Caucus, who gave the most predictable and arguably shameless nomination speech for Donalds, who won a second term in Congress in November.
Herschel Walker’s failed Senate bid showed how Republican white dudes get starry-eyed and mealy-mouthed when they talk about Black men who will do their oppressive bidding. That excitement had Perry playing Black history professor on Wednesday.
In the sixth round of voting, Perry “educated” lawmakers that Donalds, a fervent supporter of former President Donald Trump, would be the first Black speaker — and his elementary fact-sharing didn’t stop there.
“Now, as my colleagues probably know, the first Black members of Congress to serve in this body were Republicans,” he said before noting that abolitionist Frederick Douglass was a Republican.
Republicans love highlighting the fact that many Black people were aligned with the GOP more than a century ago, largely stemming from the party’s alignment with the Union during the Civil War. It’s a word game they play, hoping Black folks will be dumb enough to mistake today’s overtly racist Republican Party with the Civil War-era Republican Party that helped end slavery … because they share the same name.
Conservatives hope we skip over all that Southern strategy stuff.
When Perry discussed Donalds, it didn’t go much better. He praised Donalds’ accomplishments but said he “has a big mind and he’s big in stature,” which he claimed would intimidate the other chamber’s majority leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
“He’s very nice,” Perry said, “but I will tell you this: In a negotiation with Chuck Schumer, I sure wouldn’t wanna be on the other side of Byron Donalds.”
A ringing endorsement from Perry, which essentially boiled down to “Vote for Byron Donalds: He’s a big, scary Black man.”
Note: Perry was an active player — arguably, one of the most active — in coordinating Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election, an effort based largely on racist claims of voter fraud.
For a party that claims discussions about racism are anti-American, Republicans love to engage in them when they seem useful to their cause. But the last thing anyone needs or wants is a Black history lesson from an old white man who pushed racist, anti-democratic election lies.
Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., put Donalds’ nomination in its proper context here:
Donalds may have earned Trump’s endorsement ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, but the former president wasn’t on board with his speaker nomination as of Wednesday evening.