If delayed, it turns out that higher-dollar donors to former Louisiana state Rep. David Duke can face consequences for their support of the white supremacist’s U.S. Senate campaign last year. The Federal Election Commission reported 129 contributions of $250 or greater in 2015-16 – campaigns must report information on persons making these – to fund Duke’s effort, and it seems some have caught significant grief over this.
In California, business fell at a longtime restaurant forcing its closure because of boycotts over the owner’s gift. In Minnesota, many employees staged a walkout from a bar owned by a Duke donor.
Over a quarter-century ago, those who gave to Duke might be excused if they thought their contribution had gone to merely a populist on the right, railing against big government favoring certain client groups over the people as a whole. Duke then, running first for the Senate and subsequently governor, did everything publicly he could to distance himself from his Ku Klux Klan background. His claims warranted heavy skepticism for those knowledgeable about politics, but more casual followers of the political world often don’t pay such close attention, including some who give to campaigns, especially in an age then featuring information dissemination dominated by limited legacy media, television broadcasting of campaign commercials, and direct mail.
But now Duke’s racial message, even if he wished to hide it, seeps out from the multiplicity of information channels available to voters. Not that he tries to obscure it; beginning with the 1996 Senate contest, perhaps because in 1991 so much attention focused on his KKK past, he began more openly articulating an agenda of white rights set in opposition to other races. Certainly by 2016 those passionate enough about politics to donate larger sums knew about these views of his.
So, today it is a reasonable inference that giving at least $250 to Duke meant the giver has some sympathy to Duke’s racial agenda. In his case, perusing the list of them historically has presented a pair of anomalies: whereas such candidates typically get most of their money from in-state, Duke gets most of his from out-of-state; and while usually such candidates receive the bulk of their donations from a coterie of large-dollar contributors, including many from political action committees, most for Duke comes from small donors.
Such was the case in 2016, where of his slightly more than $200,000 less than half came from larger donors. While some candidates report all donations individually, Duke did not. Interestingly if not predictably, not a single PAC donated. Further, all but five came from outside Louisiana, not including the only identifiable business, a franchised medical billing company in Baton Rouge.
Of the four individuals, two have no identifiable businesses or employment and would appear not to have involvement in businesses that could suffer from actions deliberately designed to incapacitate its operations as a protest against donating to Duke. Another apparently runs a rural pharmacy (this donor and the business franchise both gave after Duke’s defeat in the general election, where he received just three percent of the vote). The highest-profile contributor appears to be an anesthesiologist and Tulane University School of Medicine faculty member.
So now what? Will the left leave the business, pharmacist, and physician alone? Or will it wage a campaign to stop offices from outsourcing their medical records to the business, to boycott and/or turn employees against the pharmacy, or to scare patients and students away from the physician?
Of course, in the past the left has condemned tactics that deprived some very high-profile individuals of their livelihoods because of political beliefs, such as in the case of the Hollywood blacklist. Then again, when it comes to politics in Louisiana, it’s not beneath the left to manufacture controversy where there is none concerning Duke if it thinks it can gain politically.
It may be one thing to not chow down at Chik-fil-A or slurp coffee at Starbucks because of their managements’ political views. However, trying to organize extensive campaigns to destroy individuals’ livelihoods because they gave to a candidate with some unpopular, if not nutty, ideas is, practically, a recipe for constant turmoil because of the sheer numbers of such candidates. Philosophically, this distastefully indicates mean, not entirely hinged, people have too much time on their hands who seem a bit unconfident that the ideas they espouse can triumph against even puerile beliefs like Duke’s – sort of like these fascists.
Then again, understanding this didn’t stop nutjobs in California on the issue of same-sex marriage. Is it too much to expect more maturity out of Louisiana’s social justice warriors?