Obama’s Foolish Consistency
by James Ostrowski by James Ostrowski
It’s a sign of our decadence that such an unimaginative piece of writing as Barack Obama’s speech on race could receive rave reviews. Given a rare opportunity to speak the truth about race in America, he chose instead to defame his grandmother and praise the rotting carcass of the Great Society. How can a man stuck in 1966 lead us into the future?
Obama is exactly wrong about race, democracy and government in America. His solution to troublesome relations among the races is more liberalism (democratic socialism), more spending programs and more civil "rights" enforcement. He is blind to the fact that more than fifty years of these approaches have failed the black community and worsened race relations. He wants to put more gas on the fire. Why? Because to speak the truth would mean repudiating his entire political philosophy.
No group has suffered more from tyrannical American government than blacks. Obama speaks positively of America’s "experiment in democracy." Yet, slavery, Black Codes and Jim Crow were all democratic government policies. Slavery was built into the Constitution and obligated the federal government to protect the states from "domestic Violence." Frankly, what blacks needed in those days was less democracy and more liberty. Yet, today, no group supports domestic big-government more enthusiastically. There is no mystery about why this is so. For just cause, blacks were suspicious of the majority and the state and local governments they controlled. They attributed their freedom from slavery to federal government intervention, again with just cause.
So, blacks initially voted Republican, in that era the big government party on all issues except slavery, and against the Democratic Party, which had been libertarian on most issues except slavery. When the Democrats in the 1930’s started to outbid the Republicans in their enthusiasm for federal government intervention, most blacks switched their loyalties to them. Though many Republican congressmen voted for the Civil Rights acts, the big honchos were Democratic Presidents so the loyalty of blacks to the Democrats was cemented.
Now, consider that almost every liberal Democratic policy except ending Jim Crow has hurt blacks tremendously since the New Deal. That’s the great tragedy. For historically plausible reasons, blacks have for many, many decades voted for the party of big government whose policies have caused them grave, continuing and worsening harm as a drive through any large American inner city will tell you. These include welfare, the drug war, government schools, urban renewal, eminent domain, occupational licensure, laws protecting racist unions, and the regulation of business in general which hits the newest and poorest entrepreneurs and workers the hardest.
Blacks have suffered more from big government tyranny than any other Americans (with the possible exception of American Indians). Yet, the vast majority of blacks keep voting for those very same policies and many use racism as a scapegoat for the failure of those policies. It’s easier than admitting the truth. For over 50 years, they bet on the wrong horse and that horse came up lame.
The good news is no group stands to gain more from a movement towards libertarian policies. This message is beginning to be heard as polls showed Ron Paul doing well among black voters in the primaries.
Barack Obama, even if he was aware of this, could not admit it. He could not speak the truth. Were he to do so, he would be repudiating every political thought he ever had. He would have to quit the race, quit the Democratic Party and endorse Ron Paul.
"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today."
I have no doubt that the "little statesman" will continue to cling to liberalism at the cost of better race relations in America. As Milton Friedman once told me, "Advice is easy to give but hard to take."
March 26, 2008
James Ostrowski is an attorney in Buffalo, New York and author of Political Class Dismissed: Essays Against Politics, Including "What’s Wrong With Buffalo." See his website.