Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) insisted on Sunday morning that systemic racism does not exist in the United States, pointing to the elections of former President Barack Obama and Vice President Kamala Harris as his proof.
Following the conviction of former police officer Derek Chauvin, who was found guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter, President Joe Biden said the killing of George Floyd “ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see the systemic racism” that has become a “stain on our nation’s soul.”
“In order to deliver real change and reform, we can and we must do more to reduce the likelihood that tragedies like this will ever happen and occur again,” Biden added. “And this takes acknowledging and confronting, head on, systemic racism and the racial disparities that exist in policing and in our criminal justice system more broadly.”
During an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Graham first expressed cautious optimism that there will be a bipartisan compromise on police reform legislation that makes its way through Congress. Biden has renewed his calls for the Senate to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which was passed by the House on a partisan line vote.
Asked if he thinks there will be a deal by May, Graham said “I hope so” and stated the biggest sticking point is that the House’s bill would get rid of qualified immunity for police officers, allowing individuals to sue officers if their constitutional rights have been violated. The South Carolina Republican said the “simple solution” is to allow police departments to be sued rather than cops.
Wallace then brought up Biden’s remarks, asking the conservative lawmaker point-blank if he believes there is systemic racism in policing and other American institutions. Graham, meanwhile, leaned back on a common right-wing trope that racism simply doesn’t exist anymore because of Obama and Harris’ respective electoral successes.
“No, not in my opinion,” Graham declared. “We just elected a two-term African-American president; the vice president is of African-American and Indian descent. So our systems are not racist.”
He continued: “America is not a racist country. Within every society, you have bad actors. The Chauvin trial was a just result.”
He went on to bemoan “this attack on police and policing,” complaining that Democrats are calling “them all racist.” Defending America as the “best place on the planet,” Graham acknowledged it is a “work in progress.”
“And Joe Biden spent a lot of time running the place down,” he concluded. “I wish he would stop it.”