Over the past three years, the principle focus of my columns has been the decisive role of the vote of People of Color (POC) in both the ascension to power of the Democratic Party nationally and in New Jersey and the concurrent decline of the GOP. The current standings of the New Jersey gubernatorial race announced last Wednesday in the Monmouth Poll confirm that barring some unforeseen political catastrophe, the POC vote will guarantee a landslide victory to the Democratic ticket of the incumbents Governor Phil Murphy and Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver over the Republican challenger ticket of Jack Ciattarelli and Diane Allen. https://www.insidernj.com/monmouth-poll-murphy-double-digits-ciattarelli/
The Monmouth Poll shows Murphy with a 16-point lead over Ciattarelli, 52 -36. A key determinant of these results has been the POC vote: Murphy leading 85% to 5% among Black voters and 69% to 19% among Latinos, Asians, and multiracial voters. This outcome should surprise nobody.
On New Year’s Eve, 2019-2020, I authored a column, “2020 will be the year of the African-American voter.” In this article, I predicted that Joe Biden would win the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, that he would defeat Donald Trump in the general election, and that the key to the Biden victory would be the African – American vote. As the presidential election turned out virtually exactly this way, the column was probably the most prescient piece I have ever written in my lifetime in politics.
Yet the column did not require any special perspicacity on my part. As I had written since his candidacy announcement in 2015, Donald Trump is the most profoundly racist major presidential candidate in the past fifty years, even more racist than the late Alabama Governor George Corley Wallace.
Trump racism and bigotry became a central feature of the national GOP philosophy and message during the Trump presidency. So naturally, among People of Color, the Republican brand became toxic. It should have become the strategy of the New Jersey Republican Party to distance themselves as much as possible from the racism of the national Trumpist GOP.
Instead, the New Jersey Republican Party formerly of Tom Kean’s Politics of Inclusion has become the NJGOP of racist voter suppression. In my recent column, “The Ciattarelli-Allen Get-out-the-Vote Strategy: Trumpism and Suburban White Backlash,” I link the various columns I have written on the subject.
And far from distancing himself from the New Jersey GOP racist voter suppression mission, Ciattarelli lent support to it by his opposition to Vote-by-Mail, as I stated in the aforementioned column as well.
The national Republican Party brand became even more toxic among people of color this past Thursday with the false, grossly repulsively racist claim of Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick that “African-Americans who have not been vaccinated” are driving the surge of Covid in the Lone Star State.
The Silence of the Republican lambs throughout the nation was deafening. This was an opportunity for New Jersey Republicans to reduce the toxicity of the Republican brand among People of Color by stepping forward and emphatically repudiating the vile Patrick hatred.
Until now, I have heard or read no such rebuke from Ciattarelli and Allen. As for the New Jersey Republican State Committee, their recent racist voter suppression record proves this organization to be an entity of gross racial insensitivity. The only more racially insensitive thing they could do would be to host film festivals in Newark and Camden featuring “Amos ‘n’ Andy” episodes and D.W. Griffith’s 1915 film, “The Birth of a Nation” and dedicate the festival to the memory of Woodrow Wilson.
In my post-primary column of June 10, 2021, I predicted the forthcoming Murphy landslide over Ciattarelli. I am starting to think, however, that Jack Ciattarelli will not only suffer a landslide defeat – he will be humiliated.
Added to the toxic brand of the NJGOP is the fact that Jack Ciattarelli has totally lost the appearance of authenticity. He now comes over as the canned candidate. At least the Donald Trumps and Chris Christies of this world have the virtue of authenticity. When you lose that image of genuineness, you are badly burnt political toast.
The latest political nonsense uttered by Jack Ciattarelli is typical of his inauthentic desperate search for the troglodyte anti-mask mandate vote. I refer specifically to his statement that “children are not vulnerable to this virus.”
It is clear that for the Jack Ciattarelli of 2021, political expediency must take a secondary place to sound science. The Ciattarelli statement that “children are not vulnerable to this virus.” flies in the face of the avalanche of medical evidence as to the growing threat of the COVID to our children and grandchildren.
As the grandfather of a six-year-old beautiful girl, thank God, I find the latest Ciattarelli statement absolutely disgusting and mortifying. Yet I have a feeling that we will hear even worse from him in the weeks to come.
The Jack Ciattarelli of GOP primary campaign 2017 was a candidate of total authenticity, issue acumen, and anti-Trump political courage. I became a total fan of his.
All that has been lost.
I have a suspicion, without definite evidence I may add, that there is within the Ciattarelli campaign an individual with Svengali-like influence over Jack Ciattarelli who has transformed him from the candidate of vision and hope for New Jersey in 2017 into the canned, inauthentic Jack Ciattarelli of 2021, a candidate in a compulsive search for the Neanderthal, troglodyte, MAGA vote.
Neither Jack Ciattarelli nor Diane Allen personally is a racist. And that is what makes their failure to repudiate the racism of the national and state Republican Parties so offensive.
The authentic Jack Ciattarelli of 2017 knew better as to racism and the COVID. That is what makes the Jack Ciattarelli of 2021 a politically tragic figure, headed for political oblivion. And Diane Allen will follow him there.
Alan J. Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush and as Executive Director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission