Stop Pretending ‘Moderate’ Democrats Are Heroes

Allow me to say that I saw this coming. Each time the conservative establishment raises a “moderate” leftist on its shield, a rude awakening follows. This may have already begun to happen in the case of Eric Adams, who is now the Democrats’ mayoral candidate in the Big Apple. In the recent race there, establishment conservatives lavished praise on this candidate, a former police captain who, we were told, would be tough on crime. In National Review, Kyle Smith assures us that Adams’ victory in the primary spells a probable defeat for “socialism” in the Big Apple: 

The never-ending quest to find some actual workers who supported the socialist agenda crashed into the following number last night in New York City: 46–17. Those two figures are from the Bronx, the poorest, least white, least educated, and hence most proletarian borough of New York City. Ex-cop Eric Adams, preaching the gospel of law and order, won 46 percent of the first batch of votes tallied in the Bronx.

I’m not quite sure how Adams’ razor-thin victory over the more leftist Kathryn Garcia (which was finally decided on July 6 after the predictable Democratic glitches and irregularities in vote tabulation) impedes the march toward socialism in New York City. The major issue in that race concerned the continued dumping on the police begun under Mayor Bill de Blasio. The alternative proposed was to give the men and women in blue the resources they need to maintain public safety. The electoral battle, in any case, was not waged over socialist policies like public ownership of the means of production or confiscating the wealth of those fat cats in Manhattan (who, incidentally, voted for mayoral candidates running to the left of Adams). 

The question now is, does Adams’ success represent a victory for political sanity? Or is he merely a less crazed version of those woke politicians who have a stranglehold over our major cities? 

As Brooklyn’s current borough president, Adams has been a multiculturalist and then some. In December 2019, at the opening of a center for low-income senior citizens, he went into what the New York Post described perhaps euphemistically as a “bizarre, incendiary rant.” In a long, disjunctive oration at the dedication, the borough president complained about the lack of “inclusiveness” in what they had come together to celebrate. Although LGBT charities were to operate this center for seniors, even this arrangement fell short of Adams’s exacting diversity standards. Indeed, were it not for Adams’ stand on policing he would be indistinguishable from most of his recent opponents. 

His latest shtick, which the New York Post dutifully reported after having gone into transports over Adams’ candidacy last month, is a plan for renaming streets, buildings, and public parks that now bear the names of long-dead slaveholders. Perhaps first on the chopping block will be Peter Stuyvesant, the last Dutch governor of New Amsterdam, who at one time may have owned as many as 11 slaves. This project may lead to lots of renaming, since lots of places in New York City are named for that eponymous 17th-century governor, including the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in which Adams once lived. 

Another villain whose name may be removed from public view is our first president, who seems to have owned slaves from his youth on. This may require the municipal government to remove Washington’s name from a public square that is now overrun with druggies and vandals. Clearly, the tainted father of our country does not deserve the honor of being associated with a Lower Manhattan shrine of woke democracy that may contain more derelicts and drug addicts than most other spaces of similar size elsewhere. 

This leads me to the question of how a credible Right should treat an event like the New York City mayoral primary. My answer is “cautiously.” Do not make heroes out of those who up until recently were quintessential leftist politicians, chasing after LGBT activists and deploring white racism! 

If we are being forced to make choices between lesser and greater evils, then let us say so. Unfortunately, in a race among leftists we are holding a bad hand, and whomever a conservative voter may support in this situation, there is no reason to drool over the choice. My own Leninist advice for those who are confronted with such a problem is to vote for the biggest nut of all, to hasten the crisis of the established order. But I don’t expect others on the Right to share my stated position, which I may be taking as a heuristic device, or simply to sound outrageous. 

That said, I would advise others not to exaggerate degrees of difference among woke leftists or to ascribe to them more conservative positions than they in fact hold. And we should expect these politicians to change course once they have achieved electoral success. At that point, their goal will be to reassure their leftist base.


About Paul Gottfried

Paul Edward Gottfried is the editor of Chronicles. An American paleoconservative philosopher, historian, and columnist, Gottfried is a former Horace Raffensperger Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, as well as a Guggenheim recipient.

Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

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