Ralph Northam is facing backlash after a 1984 photo of him and a friend in blackface and a KKK uniform emerged. Every condemnation, however, has missed the point of this issue entirely.
When someone claims to be anti-racist and has dressed in such a way, any minority supporter has every right to feel betrayed, regardless of the politics of the individual. While this is true, there is something far more evil about this scenario.
Elected officials have significant control over public policy and how society will operate. If someone is so capable of lying about their true positions in order to place themselves in positions of power, consider the damage they can do to people they promised to protect. The dangers of demagoguery are the true lesson of this controversy, and yet no one seems willing to accept that.
Demagoguery and the Power of Big Government
It is no secret that the government has significantly grown in size and scope in the United States. Elected officials have more say now, more than ever, on how someone may and may not live. We do not know what is in the hearts of people until they actualize the contents of their character.
With this in mind, the damage that someone can do when given the coercive power of the state is immense. Suppose someone ran for office and kept their nose clean. This person managed to avoid ever publicly hating any specific group anyone can think of. When this person takes power, however, nothing is holding them back from implementing laws that damage the communities or individuals they hate.
Also, forcing politicians to resign and replacing them with other people will not solve the inherent problem of demagoguery: until beliefs materialize into action, we can never truly know one’s actual values. What can solve for this problem, however, is to take away the ability of all politicians to impose their will upon any individual. Freedom is the answer to this problem. Taking the power away from a hate monger and giving it to someone else still leaves us with people with unjustly copious power.
In other words, while it is easy to condemn the actions of a politician who wore blackface and a KKK robe with a friend from med school, it does not lead to any gains for society. We can, however, see a change for the better if we revoke the power of not this one politician, but any politician, to coercively run the lives of other people. In terms of human prosperity, choice is the solution. Choice allows for historically vulnerable groups to determine their own fate.
Choice allows for anyone and everyone to live in accordance with their own rights. Big government, however, robs the people of self-determination. It puts control of your life into the hands of someone who may hate your very existence. Choice, not the government, is the key to eliminating the power of hate.