Now it's not just Republicans, but "angry white seniors", "tea party" participants, anti-government run health care and anyone who disagrees with or criticizes President Barack Obama's or the "Progressives'" policies who are branded as racists. It's a dangerous and over-used word whose casual application is an insult to those who have dealt with "real" racism.
"The most effectual means of preventing [the perversion of power into tyranny are] to illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people at large, and more especially to give them knowledge of those facts which history exhibits, that possessed thereby of the experience of other ages and countries, they may be enabled to know ambition under all its shapes, and prompt to exert their natural powers to defeat its purposes." --Thomas Jefferson: Diffusion of Knowledge Bill, 1779. FE 2:221, Papers 2:526
"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." --Thomas Jefferson to Charles Yancey, 1816. ME 14:384