Voters usually forget the vast majority of political ads just seconds after they finish, but there’s a handful that stand out, either for how effective they are, or for how atrocious and over the top they are. Pete Hoekstra, a former Republican Congressman from Michigan who’s running in the Senate Race against Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Lansing) has started to air an ad featuring a Chinese woman on a bike, in a rice paddy, speaking in pidgin English thanking Senator ‘Spenditnow’ for advancing policies that are detrimental to the US and beneficial for China. The substance of the ad is outright ficticious, and the presentation is horrible.
There’s the old adage that ‘any publicity is good publicity,’ but in this case, the publicity for Hoekstra is just bad. That we’re talking about a racist ad doesn’t do him any favors, particularly in an era where not only globalization is taking deeper hold, but Asians are one of the fastest-growing demographics in the US. The Republican party has already shot themselves in the foot with Latino voters, and it appears that they’re well on their way to alienating another booming demographic in America. And not only is it bad politically, it’s not the right thing to do. Preying on Americans’ fears about a resurgent China and portraying outdated stereotypes is the kind of politics that we’d expect from Dixiecrats in the 1960s and 70s.
Hoekstra would do well to remember the death of Vincent Chin. In the 1980s, the automotive industry was in the throes of decline relative to their Japanese competitors. Disgruntled Chrysler shift supervisor Ronald Ebens beat Vincent Chin to death in 1982, thinking that he was Japanese (wrong, he was Chinese), and blamed him directly for the loss of jobs in Detroit. Heated racial debates aren’t beneficial for this country. They injure, and, occasionally, kill people. Racist propaganda has no place in our political discourse, and Pete Hoekstra would not only do well to yank the ad, but it’s the right thing to do.