Regretting and Excusing Are Not the Same

For years, I’ve noticed that Republican talk show hosts and GOP inspirational speakers can’t tell the difference between “regretting” and “excusing.” Whenever they discuss, for example, the high incidence of murder, theft, and carjackings in blue states, or the defunding of police by Democratic administrations, they treat the entire population affected by these problems as victims. They seem to be saying that those who live in a mess had nothing to do with creating it. Blacks are always let off the hook for the dreadful governments under which they live. These disadvantaged Americans, we are told, are forced to live like slaves on “Democratic plantations where they can never rise socially or be physically safe. I’ve meanwhile received pictures from correspondents in Germany and Australia who complain that the police in these countries are arresting lockdown protesters. This is supposedly transpiring against the will of the majority of citizens.

Such pictures and complaints cause me to ask: How can democratically elected governments inflict such harm? The answer is simple: Majorities, and often overwhelming ones, voted for the ruling class; and if an election were held tomorrow, the same rulers would likely win. Some may denounce those in power, but they are clearly outnumbered in many places by supporters of the status quo.

Republican newscasters tear into “Comrade de Blasio,” who allegedly reached his post through trickery. In reality, Bill de Blasio won a second term as New York City’s mayor in 2017 with 65.4 percent of the tabulated vote. On November 4, 2020, Kim Klacik, an earnest young black woman, ran against Kweisi Mfume, the longtime incumbent in Maryland’s seventh congressional district, which includes Baltimore’s inner city. Klacik promised to fight for more police protection, and, unlike Mfume, she pledged to bring the races together. Against a notoriously philandering politician who gave up his birth name to assume an African one, Klacik lost the congressional race by 40 points, although remarkably enough, she amassed a large war chest. Politicians such as Mfume, Lori Lightfoot in Chicago, Maxine Waters in Los Angeles, Gavin Newsom in California, and Bill de Blasio in New York have all reached high political positions for the same reason: they attract lots of votes. 

Significantly, Larry Elder, a black conservative radio talk show host who would have been California’s next governor if Newsom had fallen in his recall election, saw 81 percent of the black vote going to the incumbent. As a campaigner, Elder hit hard on the high crime rate in black neighborhoods and the increase in black unemployment. Newsom however won the black vote with the help of the Los Angeles Times, which depicted Elders quite shamelessly as the black face of white supremacy.”

These examples indicate that those who allegedly live on “plantations” or endure endless lockdowns, are generally happy with their political lot. Since they vote for their putative oppressors sometimes with lopsided majorities, this conclusion seems warranted. The question then becomes “why do the voters act this way?” and in seeking an answer, we should stop thinking that everyone votes according to material interests or the desire for physical safety. Minorities are likely to vote on the basis of whom they hate or fear. This often outweighs other motivations.

Contrary to the evidence that President Trump relieved black unemployment in the United States and made conscious efforts to reach out to blacks, most black voters viewed him as a white supremacist. Since Trump was a Republican—that is, a leader of what for blacks is a “white party”—and since he attracted predominantly white working-class people, most blacks thought ill of him. This had nothing to do with what Trump actually did or was. It was a matter of what he represented, which was also the case for Larry Elder’s rejection by other blacks.

Western Europeans vote for parties on the cultural Left, as I show in my study of antifascism, because they are terrified of being identified as “fascists.” Since World War II, highly receptive Europeans have been so flooded with accusations that their parents’ or grandparents’ generation caused Hitler and Nazism to happen that they seek redemption by voting against their economic and demographic interests. This behavior is particularly characteristic of the guilt-obsessed Germans, who just voted into power a coalition led by the ultra-woke Greens and Social Democrats. Never mind German complaints about lockdowns and invasions by migrants, whom the Merkel regime let in by the millions! The Germans have jumped from the frying pan into the fire; and except for a minority of differently inclined voters, they will be getting exactly what they deserve. 

Similarly, Australians complain about the heavy hand of government, but they voted for socialist governments at the federal level, while major cities like Melbourne are now in leftist hands. Not surprisingly, these leftist governments favor mandates, lockdowns, and LGBT indoctrination. Regimes that embattled minorities are on the streets protesting are not there by accident. Voters made choices.

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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.

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