Be consistent on legacy guilt

Here is an important principle in politics: Consistency. If you are going to take a position, you need to apply the principles of that position to other issues. Too many times, politicians and political actors on either side will flip flop back and forth, changing sides based on whatever is convenient at the moment.

One of the places where this is most obvious is legacy guilt for slavery. Republicans and conservatives will criticize “woke” Leftists for saying things to the effect that all whites, even 160 years after the end of slavery, are to blame for that sin. But those same people will then share memes on social media about how Democrats held slaves and Republicans freed the slaves. You cannot have it both ways, people. Either people cannot be held accountable for things that happened before they were born, or they can be. The answer to that question cannot be based on what is politically convenient at the moment.

And let’s be very clear. No Democrat alive today held slaves, sold slaves, blocked releasing the slaves, or blocked giving former slaves citizenship and voting rights. If you’re going to complain about whites being held accountable for the enslavement and then the bad treatment of blacks in the 1800’s, then you cannot hold today’s Democrats accountable for what Democrats did in the 1800’s.

But we should hold Democrats to their own standards, some say. They are wrong. If the standard is a bad standard, then we should not do that. We can point out hypocrisy, certainly, but we should not be embracing a bad standard. Instead, we should use situations like this to explain why the standard is bad, rather than weakening our credibility to oppose that standard later down the line.

Ultimately, tactics like this create cynicism while not actually accomplishing anything. This meme may get some “likes” from conservatives, but it will not convince moderates and it certainly will not convert partisan Democrats. We conservatives need to be more serious and intellectually consistent.