Can Government Really 'Fix' Racism?

(Kristopher Radder/The Brattleboro Reformer via AP)

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg claims he has a plan to fix racism in America. It starts — as all overly-ambitious Democratic plans start — with money. And lots of it.


His campaign is calling the “Douglass Plan” (named after the famed civil rights leader Frederick Douglass), a Marshall Plan for minorities.


Buttigieg’s “Douglass Plan,” first announced during an interview on National Public Radio’s news show “Morning Edition,” is aimed at fighting systemic racism, and is named after abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

It would establish a $10 billion fund for black entrepreneurs over five years, invest $25 billion in historically black colleges, legalize marijuana, expunge past drug convictions, reduce the prison population by half and pass a new Voting Rights Act to further empower the federal government to ensure voting access for minority voters.

His campaign says the proposal is equal in scale to the Marshall Plan, which used today’s equivalent of about $100 billion to rebuild Europe after World War Two. Buttigieg’s plan would be enacted alongside potential direct reparations for slavery, not in place of potential reparations.

So, reparations and a Marshall Plan on race. But what, exactly, is Mayor Buttigieg hoping to accomplish?

Will giving money to black people end racism? Put a dent in it? Improve it? Is it really “justice” Buttigieg wants or black votes?

Recall that Mayor Buttigieg came under withering criticism from the black community in his own city recently for not doing anything about “racism” in the way police battle crime. Only 6% of the force is black. Presumably, more black policemen would mean fewer black citizens would be arrested…or something. Activists are always a little hazy on the details but they see the police department as a jobs bank, not a law enforcement outfit.


Buttigieg appears to agree by promising to empty America’s prisons, cutting the convict population in half. Of course, there’s no chance whatsoever that any of these millions of innocent people rotting in jail would actually, sort of, kind of, be guilty of the crime they were convicted of. No matter. Being in prison is a racial numbers game, not a means to take dangerous, anti-social people off the streets to make everyone else — black and white — safer.

But there’s one nagging point in Mayor Petey’s plan that won’t go away: do these hundreds of billions of dollars to anything to defeat hate? In short, can government do anything to fix racism?

When Democrats talk about “systemic racism” we should ask them to define that term. There are constitutional amendments granting minorities equal rights. There are dozens of laws, several federal agencies, and thousands of bureaucrats whose sole purpose of being in existence is to deal with the consequences of racism. Discrimination in hiring, firing, education — an entire range of societal endeavors is not only illegal but punished severely.

The “system” has addressed the problem of racism. Perhaps a tweak here and there is needed to fill holes in the government’s response to racism. Bank “redlining” comes to mind. But by and large, “equal rights” is as real for blacks as for whites. Government can do little else to improve it.

Racism then, becomes a personal evil — a failing of the individual either through ignorance or family tradition, to grant the obvious: blacks are as smart, as talented, as ambitious, as fully capable as whites. But blacks don’t need money. They need something far more vital. They need opportunity. Perhaps in a dictatorship or a command economy opportunity can be decreed. But in most places that enjoy freedom and liberty, opportunity is something grasped by individuals.


Government can in no way, shape, or form, “fix” racism. That’s because racism is a cultural malady — that may or may not be endemic to the human condition. Perhaps the only society regimented enough to successfully end racism is North Korea. The god-like Kim need only decree the end of racism and it would magically disappear.

Mayor Buttigieg wants black votes. He will probably win quite a few with this “Douglass Plan.” But the notion that the plan will “fix” racial inequality is, as many of these radical Democrats’ plans are proving to be, lunacy.



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