Prominent Republicans are placing the battle over critical race theory front and center as they map out their vision for the party ahead of the 2024 presidential race.
Former Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley are among the potential 2024 presidential hopefuls who have weighed in on the subject in recent days.
Republicans have begun to leverage their opposition to the divisive curriculum in public schools to define their strategy going forward as a party of unity that fights back against a Democrat Party which they say has embraced a sense of destructive “self-loathing.”
“This plague of self-doubt is not new,” Ms. Haley said Tuesday in a speech at the Ronald Reagan Library. “It existed in Reagan’s time. Jimmy Carter spoke of a national malaise. But it is much worse now. The America-doubters are more powerful than ever.”
She said the problem “runs much deeper than being ‘woke.’”
“It’s bigger than ‘critical race theory.’ Those things are dangerous, but the greater danger is that anger toward America is now the bedrock belief of the American left,” Ms. Haley said.
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Former Trump Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and Mr. Pompeo have placed the Republican Party’s opposition to critical race theory at the foundation of the conservative framework going forward.
Dr. Carson’s American Cornerstone Institute recently launched an online curriculum billed as “an answer to critical race theory” called the “Little Patriots Program,”
“Education is on a concerning path,” the landing page for the Little Patriots Program claims. “Kids are being taught opinions, not facts. Patriotism is rebuked as political.”
Mr. Pompeo tweeted Tuesday, “Dr. Carson and I agree: CRT doesn’t belong in our schools,” promoting the alternative curriculum.
The tweet received substantial backlash.
“Critical Race Theory is the latest GOP mantra because ‘Wall!’ And ‘Repeal and Replace’ and ‘Drain the Swamp’ won’t work,” wrote one user.
Mr. Pompeo followed the tweet with a clarification; “I think parents should decide what their children are taught in school,” he said. “That’s all.”
The responses were, again, mixed.
The derision between Republicans and Democrats over critical-race theory, which places race at the forefront of understanding American history and institutions and proposes that America is racist to its core, has spilled over from heated debates in local school board meetings and solidified its place on the mantle of national politics.
Mrs. Haley‘s remarks were part of a Reagan Foundation speaking series launched in April aimed at defining the Republican Party going forward.
Concern over critical race theory being taught in schools is largely dismissed by Democrats who say Republicans use the curriculum as a scare tactic. Some dismiss the degree to which the curriculum is taught in schools.
But increasingly, Republicans are honing in on the division, and defining the party as a uniting force in a country that they say is becoming increasingly divided.
“It is up to us to provide the truth about America,” Mrs. Haley said Tuesday. “The sooner we lead a new awakening of patriotism, the quicker we’ll stop the decaying belief that our country is systematically racist.”
“Only a confident and proud America can with the clash of civilizations,” she said.