To paraphrase a line from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (written April 16, 1963): ‘Daddy, why do people treat people so mean?”
There’s some white folks right now scared shitless and their lack of rationality leaves them no choice but to lash out. It is a testament to the dry rot of the anglo culture that predominates in some echelons of our society that they have such utter lack of self-respect as to take out their frustrations in this banal and despicable fashion.
On the other hand, many people from the same exact towns and cities are exemplars of the truly peaceful human seeking out love and understanding. What separates the two? I can only call it faith, but not in some deity for surely the racist numbskulls would claim that lickity split. It is faith in their common man and in the institutions we have wrought for over two centuries, some older than that.
It is faith in the essential promise of life itself: that given time and air and food and light, a tree will bring shade to the weary. Given a nudge from its mother’s beak the nestling will take flight. And given the opportunity, with rights in hand, the individual will prevail in achieving happiness.
There are those that see the election of a black man, an African-American. There are those who see the election of a liberal, of a lefty. And there are those who see the election of an American.
And the first group, on both sides, seem to hold race as a prominent factor in their self-identities. They are not men or women, but they are a white man or a black woman.
And the second group, on both sides, hold a particular ideology. They see the benefits of low taxes and deficits be damned or they see the benefits of government regulation and market forces (ie, economic blowback) be damned. They are committed just as much as the first two groups. They have invested in their world view and in some cases are past the point they are willing to pull back and rekindle their spiritual savings account to put it toward a more modest appraisal.
And then the third group, of which I consider myself a member, and I am hopeful that we have elected not a black man, not a liberal, but an American to the highest office of our government. I see the benefit of lowering taxes, but only if we can do the honest thing and pay for our government. I see the benefit to some measure of regulation, but not to the point that economics dictates will do more harm than good. I may have white skin and a Y chromosome, but I consider myself a human foremost.
And above all I strive to pride myself in a rational understanding of the world. That the path of regulation should more often than not be informational regulation (ie, ensuring transparency in markets) that allow for the economic system to self-regulate in the same way that the awareness of a predator in the wild invokes a response in the potential prey.
That the path of taxation should seek a balance between the needs and rights of the individual to provide and to reinforce hard work and the needs and duties of a social organization to fulfill its contractual obligations to its citizenry.
We have some problems in this country, but let’s be sure we focus on the real problems and not on imagined ones.