Think Like Us – Chicago Reader
In a year of Republicans trying to scare white people into voting Republican, Richard Irvin went one step further.
He runs a commercial intended to win over the “good” (think MAGA) kind of white people by assuring them that he scares the wrong kind of white people (think people like me).
In a perverse way, I have to give him credit for his toxic creativity. He invented a new way to weaponize white fear of black people to win votes for Republicans. Somewhere in the universe, the late Lee Atwater, the Republican operative who invented Willie Horton’s strategy, has to say: Shit, even I didn’t think of that.
OK, a few things you need to know. . .
Richard Irvin is the mayor of Aurora.
This is a rather obscure position. As such, almost no one outside of Aurora has ever heard of him. Until . . .
The richest man in the state, Kenneth Griffin, who donates millions to Republicans, basically offered Irvin a deal that I imagine went something like this:
I’ll donate millions to your campaign – so you can run ads 24 hours a day – if you wait in line.
Until Griffin ran, Irvin was what you might call a moderate Republican. A criminal defense attorney who sometimes voted Democrat, he went so far as to congratulate Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Democrats for passing the criminal justice bill.
Hardly the kind of guy who could win a Trump-dominated party.
And so, Irvin had a choice. Stay true to your principles and beliefs? Or take the rich man’s money and dance to the MAGA song?
Guess we know what Irvin picked, because Griffin has donated $20 million to his campaign so far. With much more no doubt to follow.
I can understand why Griffin thinks Irvin can beat Pritzker. Republican moderates, like former Gov. Jim Edgar, generally work well across the state.
However, the holiday has changed since Edgar’s time. And before facing Pritzker, Irvin must win the Republican primary. That means beating MAGA men as hardened as State Senator Darren Bailey.
So Irvin pretty much has to give up everything he presumably believed in and take the MAGA Pledge, which these days looks a bit like this:
Donald Trump is our political savior who won the 2020 presidential election.
Joe Biden is the evil leftist who stole the election.
The pandemic is a Democratic hoax — and most people killed by COVID would have died anyway. So forget them.
And by the way, Donald Trump saved everyone who didn’t die of COVID by creating the vaccine, which, by the way, you shouldn’t take unless you wanted to. And which wasn’t even necessary because COVID is a Democrat hoax – remember that? But let’s congratulate Trump anyway, otherwise he will feel bad.
And masks should be a choice. Unless you choose to wear them. So it’s… what’s with the mask, wimp? Like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis bullying these mask-wearing teenagers.
And critical race theory is bad. Parents, not teachers, should decide what their children learn. Unless the parents want their children to learn critical race theory, in which case cancel those parents!
And we are against abortion in all cases, including rape, because every life is sacred. Unless it was one of those lives killed by COVID – in which case they would die anyway. Remember?
etc. . .
Besides having to convince MAGA that he really believes all this nonsense, Irvin has another challenge. He’s a black man.
As we all know, MAGA has problems (oh, how can I say that?) with black people. In the presidential election, Republicans attempted to reject the votes of tens of thousands of black voters in Detroit, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Atlanta and other major cities.
So it’s imperative for Irvin to let MAGA know that he’s not the kind of black guy they tried to vote out of. He is more of a MAGA man, just like them.
Hence a recent ad in which he looks straight into the camera and says, “There’s nothing the left fears more than Republicans who look like me and think like us. . . I am Richard Irvin. I am their worst nightmare.
With its heavy emphasis on thinking “like us,” it’s like something out of a Jordan Peele movie.
I hope Irvin’s next commercial will be more specific about the “we” he is thinking of. For example, does he think like . . .
Republicans who believe Congresswoman Mary Miller was right when she said, “Hitler was right”?
Or the Nazis who marched through Charlottesville chanting “Jews won’t replace us”?
Or the Florida Republicans who passed a bill giving parents the right to sue high school teachers who mention that some people may be gay?
Or the January 6 insurgents who stormed the Capitol to kill Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi?
Or how about Pastor Greg Locke, Tennessee’s latest MAGA nightmare? He is a growing force within the Republican Party thanks to his ability to attract thousands of people to his revival meetings which feature scenes like this captured in a recent article by the Washington Post.
Cocking a microphone as he paced the stage, his wife, Tai, at his side, Locke called forth ‘spirits’ of anger, rage, bitterness, lust and envy.”
“’Spirit of aggression, spirit of abuse, get out now!’ Locke ordered. “‘Any spirit of homosexuality, lesbianism, get out, get out,'” his wife ordered. “‘Transgender, gender dysphoria, get out.'”
“We reprimand him, we reprimand him! Locke shouted. “’If you’ve had the COVID-19 vaccine, I’m telling you, you have poison in your veins. . . . We call the vaccine COVID-19. . . at present. Keep that demonic spirit out of you right now in the name of Jesus! ‘”
Hey, Richard Irvin, is Greg Locke the “we” you’re so proud to think of? If so, you are using your skin color to help MAGA humanize hate. And you’re right, it’s really scary.