Selma Anniversary Events…The GOP Leadership Blows It Again
Today the nation is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the March From Selma to Montgomery, a pivotal point in the history of the civil rights movement and American history.
For some reason, GOP congressional leaders decided they didn’t need to be there, even though Senator Tim Scott is one of the day’s co-chairman and former President George W. Bush will attend. (Reports are the House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is attending. Good for him.)
On the list of dumb and offensive things the GOP has managed to do in the last few weeks, this probably tops the list. Yes, the Democrats will make this a partisan shit-show. So what? You do the right thing because it’s the right thing.
<blockquote>If all men really are created equal, the anniversary of Selma must be treated as a date every bit as important to American history as is the end of the Siege of Yorktown. As it would be unthinkable for the leadership of the Republican party to ignore July Fourth, it should be unthinkable for its luminaries not to celebrate the anniversary of the March to Montgomery either. Where have you gone, Speaker Boehner, a movement turns its lonely eyes to you.</blockquote>
Conservatives and Republicans love to point out how the supporters of segregation and oppressors of blacks were Democrats. We hear endlessly about how it was the Republican Party that supported the key civil rights era legislation. Well, you can’t live on past glories of decades gone by if you’re reaction to the commemoration of those events is, I got other plans that day.
Again, I get the Democrats will use the day to slam Republicans and again I don’t care. You should never pass up an opportunity to the right thing. And you might even gain something out of it.
What would I say if I were Boehner, McConnell or some other GOP leader? Something along these lines….(It’s not a final speech but you’ll get the sense of the themes I think a small government conservative should touch on)
We are here to celebrate brave men and women who at great risk and cost themselves forced our great nation to face up to and correct great injustices. A nation born under the banner of “all men are created equal” should never have had to fight a Civil War and a century later a great Civil Rights movement. But we did. And we owe so much to those who did.
While we rightly celebrate the founders for their accomplishments, we should not be blinded to the work they left undone. Today we celebrate the men and women who completed the work of the founders and gave life to the promise of the nation they created. We honor them and recognize their indisputable and exalted place in America’s history.
But let us not fool ourselves that their work is done. In America, we are never done striving to be better, to increase and spread the blessings of liberty and prosperity. That vitality, that constant striving, is to me what makes America the engine that drives the world. We must also remember that for all the change and growth we seek, we do so based on the timeless principles of our founding documents. Principles which the men and women who crossed this bridge a half century ago fought to ensure applied to all Americans.
Some will say that not much has changed in the ensuing decades for black Americans. To argue that the state of race relations or the black community isn’t much different now than they were then is to argue that the events we are here to celebrate didn’t matter or accomplish much. I reject that notion.
As I said, there is always much work to do, opportunities to make our lives and the lives of future generations better. Make no mistake, no one here, regardless of race or political party disagrees with that.
Where there are disagreements they are over how to best do this. And that’s as it should be. The right to take part in our great national conversation was a key goal of the civil rights movement. We honor that not by shouting each other down but by engaging each other. Challenging our fellow citizens assumptions and being open to having ours challenged.
Some of us look at the world that existed before the successes of the Civil Rights era and see a cautionary tale of government power. As Ronald Reagan said, “a government big enough to give you everything you want is powerful enough to take it away.” We must never let governments become so powerful that they can take away the most basic and precious rights of citizens.
I believe that the nation that produced heroes like Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis (note: Sort of lying here, Lewis has become a dirtbag) and countless others, can and is producing new generations who will have new answers to the challenges we face. The heirs to these greats understand that those who came before them, like the founders, fought against corrupt and tyrannical governments. It was their belief in and courageous exercise of their God given rights in the face of government power that secured the blessings of liberty they were due.
So when we leave here today, with the words and deeds of these historic events fresh in our minds, let us always be looking towards solutions that protect liberty. For in the end, it will always be the initiative, talent and commitment of individuals that are the keys to making their lives, and by extension, the wellbeing of our communities, better. By freeing individuals to the maximum extent possible from the whims of distant and powerful governments we ensure that they will be able to achieve the greatness they have within. In the end, every man and woman have their own hopes and goals. They as individuals or families are best suited to know their own minds and desires. And it is they who know best how to achieve those ends. Ensuring they we are able to make our own choices about our lives is fundamental to freedom.
It has been an honor and a privilege to share this stage with so many American heroes. Let us all redouble our efforts to be worthy guardians of the nation they have bequeath us and to do our best to leave it in even better condition to future generations.
Of course, today’s GOP leadership would never try and sell small government or dare say anything other than acceptable pablum. So maybe it was a good idea that they skipped it.