Distraction As Political Strategy – OpEd


By Hunter Lewis*

Why are we fighting over confederate monuments?

Because people feel strongly about this issue? Because they are being removed? Because some groups are trying to exploit the situation to get attention?

Or is there another reason?

While we are fighting over Confederate monuments relating to events almost two centuries ago, we are not focusing on:

  • The worsening plight of the poor;
  • The destruction of the middle class ( many middle class people can no longer afford even a new car);
  • The crony capitalists who make their money from government handouts or connections, and who are getting richer and richer;

Government employees who may have signed on for the most sincere reasons, but whose numbers have swelled, who are now making much more than they would in the private sector, who cannot be fired, and whose earnings are often diverted into campaign contributions favoring one party;

A government that is unsustainably financing itself through debt and money printing.

Is it a coincidence that while we are fighting about Confederate monuments, we are not focusing on any of these issues? Or is that someone’s political strategy? Perhaps the strategy of both Democrats and many Republicans, aided and abetted by their press allies.

It was once thought that the Democratic Party had nailed down issues relating to class, race, and gender. Paul Cantor noted, after the last presidential election, that Democrats had perhaps unwittingly allowed Trump to claim “class” for himself.

Perhaps as a result, Trump and his voters have been slammed with charges of racism, white supremacy, anti-semitism, homophobia, misogyny, xenophobia, fascism. Some of this seems completely detached from reality. Can a president whose daughter converted to orthodox Judaism when she married her husband and who has relied so heavily on that husband, who has brought in so many Jews into his administration in powerful positions, and who has moreover repaired relations with Israel, really be anti-semitic? Is the candidate who reached out to gays in his nomination acceptance speech, a daring act for a Republican, really homophobic? Is it any more likely that he is a white supremacist or racist? One can think of many unflattering adjectives that might accurately apply to Trump, but are these the right ones?

And does all of this, like the Confederate monuments, just distract us from the likely ruin the poor and middle class face if we continue to allow progressive elites to run our economy along the usual, Keynesian lines?

About the author:
*Hunter Lewis is author of nine books, including Where Keynes Went Wrong, Free Prices Now! and Crony Capitalism in America: 2008-2012. Lewis is co-founder of Against Crony Capitalism.org as well as co-founder and former CEO of Cambridge Associates, a global investment firm. He has served on boards and committees of fifteen not-for-profit organizations, including environmental, teaching, research, and cultural organizations, as well as the World Bank.

This article was published by the MISES Institute


The Mises Institute, founded in 1982, teaches the scholarship of Austrian economics, freedom, and peace. The liberal intellectual tradition of Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) and Murray N. Rothbard (1926-1995) guides us. Accordingly, the Mises Institute seeks a profound and radical shift in the intellectual climate: away from statism and toward a private property order. The Mises Institute encourages critical historical research, and stands against political correctness.

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