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The Pander Bear

By Bruce Walker
web posted February 24, 2003

Democrats are discovering that pandering is a finite vice. Lacking any interest in the general welfare or the common good, Democrats long ago began picking and choosing heroes and villains around which to construct a political mythology that would keep them in power. This strategy is not new to modern leftists in the Democrat Party; it is as old as the party itself.

The coalescing principle in the antebellum Democrat Party was political support for slavery and opposition of every sort to equality for black Americans. This was not restricted to the South, but included the Democrat Party in the North as well. Demonizing black Americans continued for a long, long time in the Democrat Party.

Political figures generally considered decent Democrats, like Samuel Tilden, Grover Cleveland and Woodrow Wilson were all racists who opposed social and political equality for blacks. Republicans, by contrast, remained committed to political equality for blacks and were much more devoted to social equality for blacks than modern historians would let us believe.

Review the platforms and the statements of party nominees of the two political parties during the seven decades after the Civil War and the recurring theme is Republican consistency in support for blacks and general Democrat opposition to this. Democrats were pandering to racists in America.

Sharpton addresses the Democratic National Committee in Washington on February 22
Sharpton addresses the Democratic National Committee in Washington on February 22

Rather than adopt the consistent policies of the Republican Party, Democrats over several decades did an abrupt flip-flop. Rather than treating black Americans as responsible citizens, Democrats began pandering to blacks and demonizing whites. Well, the Pander Bear has awoken and he is hungry. His name is Al Sharpton.

Democrat candidates need the black vote to win the Democrat nomination. Democrats nationally need a candidate who can "energize" the black vote in order to win elections, and that means much more than simply winning presidential elections. Once all it took to energize black voters was to do what Republicans did: proclaim equality and the rule of law.

This was a universal appeal to groups that had truly been denied this rights in American history. It is not coincidence that the Republican Party embraced Women's Suffrage much sooner and much more emphatically than Democrats. Margaret Chase Smith, the first female senator elected on her own merits, was a Republican. Suffragettes were also almost entirely Republicans.

It is not accidental that Democrat icons like Woodrow Wilson and FDR instigated or acquiesced in Jim Crow laws and restrictions for Asian Americans, while Republicans resisted bigotry. Republican Teddy Roosevelt negotiated peace between Russia and Japan, and recognized Japan as a major power, his Democrat cousin FDR rounded up Japanese citizens and put them in camps.

The Ku Klux Klan, the historical al-Qaida of Democrat Party power, kept Hispanics, blacks and Catholics terrorized and powerless in much of the South. The Klan was created for the purpose of recapturing monolithic South on behalf of the Democrat Party from the bipartisan South of Reconstruction, which had the most truly competitive political system until America's largest indigenous terrorist organization recaptured the South on behalf of the Democrat Party.

Once the Democrats saw that blacks, women, Hispanics and other groups were going to be allowed a share of power, they wrote a new demonology: white, Christian, males of European descent were the victimizers of all these new and special constituencies of Democrats. This, of course, meant that the balance of authority and of responsibility that are the equal elements of responsible citizenship were removed from the equation.

The entire argument was phony and immoral. Jews, for example, reached America in three distinct waves. The first Jewish settlers were Sephardic Jews, who had easily blended into the generally tolerant Dutch society and the pious Christian settlers, themselves victims of religious persecution, who were sympathetic to Jews.

The next wave of German Jews faced much discrimination, but because of their Germanness and not their Jewishness. These Jews, along with their Protestant and Catholic countrymen, overcame nativist politics with relative ease, and they were prominent community and business leaders by the start of the Twentieth Century.

The last wave of Jews escaped the horrible conditions of the Romanov's empire, which was alternatively enticing and then oppressive towards its large Jewish population. These Jews, not Sephardic Jews and not educated and affluent German Jews, provoked the infamous anti-Semitism of the Ku Klux Klan.

What was true about Jews was true about almost every other ethnic group which had some claim of past grievance toward America. Blacks from Carribean islands, who often spoke English much better than most Americans, quickly rose to the very pinnacle of black society. The distance between the grandparents of Colin Powell and those of Condi Rice, who came from the South, are as stark as those within any purported "ethnic" or "racial" group.

The Pander Bear reaches its highest absurdity in treating women as an undifferentiated "exploited" class. Linda Eastman was the beautiful daughter of a billionaire who married the most popular of the Beatles. She was probably a nice and gentle person, but trying to lump her life experiences with the cleaning lady from El Salvador, who invisibly and quietly cleans the toilets of luxurious hotel rooms where Linda and Paul would longue during his tours, is ridiculous.

What can Democrats offer the Pander Bear for lunch? Not much. The loss of power at every level means that Democrats simply do not have much power to divvy up among the different and conflicting groups. That means fighting over a dwindling pie.

Moreover, as quotas bump against quotas, and as Republicans show that the way to principled and merit power - Colin Powell, Condi Rice and Clarence Thomas - is through the Republican Party, the very allure of the Democrat Party has turned to stale perfume. The path for minorities to universal honor and respect is now through the Republican Party, not the Democrat Party.

The only response that Democrats can make to Hispanics who are nominated to the federal bench or blacks selected as National Security Advisor (during one of the most dangerous periods in our nation's history) is to pander more slavishly and more absurdly to those who have remained on the plantation.

It is, for Democrats, a vicious spiral downwards. As the minority party, they desperately need every energized black, Hispanic, Asian and other minority vote. But Sharpton and his ilk know this. With a smaller pie, they demand a bigger slice. That bigger slice can only be justified by more absurd arguments and enraging positions.

But Al Sharpton is trapped too. His strength is resistance to moderation. The Democrat Party is already too liberal for most Americans, and it can pander the Pander Bear only at the risk of alienating more Americans. The Pander Bear is soon going to be as close to extinction as the Panda Bear and the Democrat Party.

Bruce Walker is a senior writer with Enter Stage Right. He is also a frequent contributor to The Pragmatist and The Common Conservative.

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