Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

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Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Our Endangered Democracy


Conservative columnist Chuck Pinkey asked: “Whatever happened to ‘E Pluribus Unum (out of many, one)?”  The reason is that our country has never become one is that many people won’t accept the reality that America has been a very diverse nation from the very beginning.

Delegates to the Constitutional Convention dealt with the our religious diversity, by refusing to follow Ben Franklin's suggestion that their daily sessions be opened with a prayer for divine guidance.

In 1984, Ronald Reagan explained: “Our very unity has been strengthened by our pluralism.  We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever.”

At a private dinner in Washington DC on the day Obama was sworn in as president, top Republican lawmakers and strategists decided they weren’t going to negotiate on anything.

In the State of the Union, President Obama noted: “An example of our values is that we respect human dignity.  It’s the reason, that we speak out against the anti-Semitism.  It’s also the reason, that we should reject offensive stereotypes of Muslims, the vast majority of whom share our commitment to peace.

“Tolerant Americans have defended free speech, condemned the persecution of women, religious minorities, and persons, who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.  Those Americans, who stand for those values do so not only, because they believe its the right thing to do, but because ultimately it will make us all safer.”

Then, a Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United transformed our politics by allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections.  The flood of corporate money in our elections, and the sharp increase in voting-rights restrictions has damaged our representative democracy.  The voices of a diverse and tolerant America has been muted.  Our democracy isn’t working.

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