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What is Wrong With Those People?

Wondering why other people vote the way they do.

by James Leroy Wilson
October 7, 2004

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It started at a fairly young age, when I learned of how blacks voted. That they always went Democrat by a 9:1 margin. It got me thinking: "What is wrong with those people?" As in, do they really think that the power-brokers who control the party really give a rip about the concerns of African-Americans?

It is unfair to ask the question. But the impulse is there. I could say the same thing about homosexuals: Why in the world are they so into goose-stepping? Yes, I know of one gay anti-war libertarian columnist. But to the degree that the gay rights movement wants to expand the State to suit their own interests, rather than to diminish the State for the sake of greater liberty for all, is the extent that the movement loses my respect and makes me wonder, again, "What is wrong with those people?"

But it is unfair to ask the question of these groups, or of any other groups. Many evangelical Christians, for example, vote Republican because they believe that the next Presidential election will decide the make-up of the Supreme Court and the fate of Western Civilization -and have believed so for thirty years. It is easy to ask, "What is wrong with those people?" Other evangelicals seem to sincerely believe that Jesus Christ preached State socialism, and so they go Democrat. Again, it is easy to say, "What is wrong with those people?" Perhaps they take the feeding of the five thousand too literally, and believe that the State can just generate prosperity by sheer will and wise planning. (No, we can't create more loaves and fish to feed all, but we can print more money!)

But what is wrong in the white evangelical culture isn't any worse than that of the gay community or the African-American community or any other.

To illustrate, let us think of the Jews. They seem to vote Democrat in proportions almost as large as African-Americans. So we can ask the question: What is wrong with these people? But several prominent Jewish intellectuals and writers are Republican, and often call themselves neo-conservative. Then they charge that anyone who blames America's problems on the "neo-cons" are just using that as a code word for "Jews."

The irony here is that, when I was younger, it never crossed my mind to associate neo-conservatism with the Jews. I thought, instead, of Jeanne Kirkpatrick, William Bennett, and Jack Kemp. I thought of a hard line against the Soviet Union, a return to bourgeois values, and (Milton) Friedman-esque reforms in Social Security, education, and welfare. It never occurred to me to think of neo-conservatism as a Jewish phenomenon until Jewish neo-conservatives themselves made that an issue. And for that very reason of "Agree with us or you're a Nazi," such neo-cons deserve even greater contempt and scorn than do Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

Yes, Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz , the founders of the idea of neo-conservatism, were born Jews. So was Karl Marx,the founder of communism. All of that means nothing. Ethnicity doesn't determine character, and the religion one was born into doesn't determine action. Think of this: the three most influential thinkers of the modern libertarian movement were all ethnic Jews (and two were immigrants!): Ludwig von Mises, Ayn Rand, and Murray Rothbard. Shall we assert that to criticize libertarianism makes one anti-Semitic?

While the thought and feeling will undoubtedly creep into my mind about people who are different from me, I know intellectually that "What is wrong with those people?" is the wrong question. The real question is, "What is wrong with us?" Or, more specifically, "What is wrong with me?"

Black, white, Jew, gentile, male, female, gay, or straight: the problem is the same. We have a herd mentality and the range of acceptable options we limit ourselves to is the differences between the Democrats and Republicans, as reported by the corporate media. The Republicans re-nominated President Bush, who has perhaps the worst four-year record of the post-Civil War republic. The Democrats nominated John Kerry, whose public record indicates he is the most war-mongering, pro-Police State candidate in our nation's history. Those are the options.

No group or individual can be blamed for this. The promise of genuine liberty loses because people can't comprehend the amount of personal responsibility it entails. For instance, the economy, to most people, is something the government is responsible for, as if their own productivity has nothing to do with it.

That is what is so discouraging about the cult of Statism: it seduces the majority of just about any religious, cultural, or ethnic group you can think of. It is a foolish cop-out to try to blame America's numerous social, moral, and economic problems on this or that "group." Groups are not the problem. Individuals are.

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