Getting the Kind of Government We Deserve?

A bad habit on the establishment Right, here and in other Western countries, is to treat those who have made disastrous electoral decisions as victims. If the choices made by these “victims” turn out badly, as they have in the cases of numerous municipal governments and blue states and with the election of Joe Biden, conservatives carefully avoid accusing the voters. Apparently high crime rates, unnecessary lockdowns, goofy LGBTQ+, antiwhite measures, and galloping inflation should not be pinned on those who cast electoral ballots. 

If eligible voters in heavily black urban areas endorse corrupt politicians who thrive by playing the race card and ignore rising crime rates, the fault, we are led to believe, is entirely with those who have been elected. The stigma belongs to politicians who have betrayed the “people,” although a majority of the “people” dutifully voted for them. Are we to think that those who have voted more than once for Maxine Waters, Kweisi Mfume, and Bill de Blasio or who ran in droves to rescue Gavin Newsom in the California recall election last year are simply the hapless victims of evil politicians?  

The same tendency to shift blame misleadingly is characteristic of the German democratic Right, as I gather from reading their leading weekly Junge Freiheit. Although Germany has moved even further to the left than the United States on social and cultural issues and is governed by a Green-Social Democratic coalition that is even more radical than our Democrats, the fault, according to German conservatives, does not lie with the German “volk,” which is no longer even recognizable as such. 

Significantly, German voters stand behind a state that has little respect for civil liberties, one that has gone after its only non-leftist party—Alternative for Germany—because its leaders have suggested in speech that Germans are an historic nation, not just a collection of individuals. Unfortunately, most Germans don’t seem to care if a leftist woke government shuts them up and strips them of their national identity.  

The lockdowns established by the German government were also far more comprehensive than ours, and the state attacked those who protested them as Nazi sympathizers and in many cases subjected them to arrest and prosecution. The new German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, who has published in the far-left Antifa, has designated as her first priority, “combating the far-right threat,” a war that should start in kindergarten. Last week, the culturally radical Social Democrats swept to an unanticipatedly large victory in Saarland. Their chief competitor, the Christian Democrats, lost to the Social Democrats, who managed to outdo them in LGBT advocacy, and in calls for massive immigration and blatant antinationalism. The last time I checked, it was overwhelmingly ethnic Germans who voted for this woke hell.

Are we to pretend that those who vote for race-baiters and unhinged antifascists are not really voting? They are simply the victims of malign forces that bring to power leftist demagogues and crazed social engineers despite the “people”? Although it may be convenient to nurture that fantasy, real majorities often elect utterly loathsome governments, and few of these electoral victories bear comparison to the manipulated outcomes that take place in Third World countries.  

I’m also not willing to give these voters the benefit of the doubt because they have been under the influence of lying media. Although the leftist media lie through their teeth, one might expect that adults at some point would notice. But even if they don’t, I see no reason to treat voters as the helpless victims of their own choices. Truth is, they are getting the leadership they deserve. And they are suffering the consequences they brought on themselves.

We should assume that when citizens are authorized to vote, they are responsible for what they mark on a ballot. We are, however, free to doubt that all voting citizens take civic obligations seriously, and in the 19th century, the educated bourgeoisie, as I show in After Liberalism, wished to limit the franchise to literate property holders like themselves. They believed that only the “capable classes (les classes capacitaires)” were able to exercise political power prudently, and some doubted that women, with certain exceptions, were emotionally stable enough to attend to political affairs. 

Although these early bourgeois liberals may have had a point, Western countries since have moved in a different direction. We are therefore obliged to operate with another assumption. That assumption is that all authorized citizens should be able to choose their leaders. This means that they will be getting the government they democratically elected, and the responsibility for that choice is theirs.

For some reason conservative spokesmen can’t get that into their heads. Although they hold inner-city blacks responsible for the lack of committed family fathers, they entirely absolve them for their political choices. Women are responsible for having abortions, but not for backing politicians who call for sexualizing children in nursery schools. There is no justification for absolving irresponsible voters.

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: iStock/Getty Images

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