By Their Fruits You Shall Know Them

I am trying not to be angry, but I am.

The Republicans have made a point of saying they want to appeal to all Americans, that they want to enlarge their base and show people that they “care” about those who are not Conservatives.

But today, as people gather in Selma, Alabama, to commemorate that awful Sunday in 1965 when black people were beaten as they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge as they had to in order to reach Montgomery from Selma to demand the right to vote, Republican leadership is not there. Save one, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, there will be no Republicans in leadership there to commemorate, really, the working of democracy.

It is clear that there is not a lot of support for upholding the Voting Rights Act amongst Conservatives. The United States Supreme Court has done much to dismantle much of what the more than 25,000 people marched for on that day in 1965. It seems that Conservatives give much lip service to the concept of democracy, but in practice, they seem not to believe in it at all.

Their absence in Selma today says that they do not care …about a large number of American citizens …who happen to be people of color. It seems that they do not care that, as Americans fought the British for independence – and won  – that they do not care that people of color had to fight the white power structure for dignity and a basic American right …and won …in spite of being brutally beaten.

It was the goal of Alabama state law enforcement to impede black people from crossing that bridge and from demanding their right to vote. It was only after President Lyndon Johnson, at the behest of Civil Rights leaders, ordered protection for the marchers from the federal government …that the people had enough protection to …be Americans and to demand an American right.

The interference of the federal government in cases of racial inequality and injustice was the basis for the battle cry of “states’ rights” back then, a cry which is resurrecting today. Folks resented the federal government “telling them what to do.” It was the right of states, they believed, to treat their “nigras” like they wanted to. When the federal government intervened, they fumed …and are still fuming.

That’s why we are seeing such an erosion of the Voting Rights Act today.

I think of all those people who were beaten that day as they marched peacefully to claim their right to vote …and I weep inside, because it seems like, feels like, much of what they suffered for has been forgotten.

I remember when President George Bush, in his inauguration address, called for “1000 points of light” to help address and fix some of this nation’s problems.

Those lights either do not exist or have been blown out by the winds of racial injustice which have continued to blow in this great land of ours.

It would be great to look up and see that some of our Republican leaders swallowed their emotions and showed up today in Selma. It would be good to see Marco Rubio and Mitch McConnell and John Boehner …and others …but they will not show up. House Republicans showed up to support Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but have so little respect for African-Americans and people of color that they will not show up today.

I am angry about it; well, maybe “saddened” is the more apt adjective to use. It says volumes about this “land of the free and home of the brave.” It is not yet, “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Not yet.

A candid observation ….

“The American People” are …who?

English: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth Presid...
English: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States. Latviešu: Abrahams Linkolns, sešpadsmitais ASV prezidents. Српски / Srpski: Абрахам Линколн, шеснаести председник Сједињених Америчких Држава. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

OK. So I am confused. The Constitution of the United States, that sacred document to which we all refer to understand what our country is all about, says that government is to be “of the people.” President Lincoln, in the Gettysburg Address, referred to that constitutional sentiment when he said that government in this nation was to be “of the people, by the people and for the people.”

But who are “the people?” As the Congress leads yet another effort to destroy “Obamacare,”  House Speaker John Boehner gets out and says that “the American people” don’t want this Affordable Care Act. And I would suppose that Rep. Eric Cantor, who has been a leader and a voice in the move to cut domestic spending, would say “the American people” the latest proposed cuts, which would slash $40 billion from food stamps, want the same.

My question is,  who are “the American people?”

Every time I hear any politician say “the American people” I wonder the same thing. “The American people,” if the Congress be believed, don’t care if the government shuts down, because opposing the Affordable Care Act is that much of a cause to fight against. So, the people who would lose their jobs, affecting their ability to survive, are not “the American people?”

Is the Republican Congress that when they say “the American people,” while simultaneously cutting back on programs that help the poor survive, that they are cutting out a huge portion of America’s population? Do they care? The argument is that people being cut need to find jobs, but is the Republican Congress aware that people are working, some two jobs, and still do not make a living wage? Aren’t they “the American people,” too?

In a New York Times article, some members of Congress were said to have supported the measure slashing funding for food stamps because “the food stamp program, which costs $80 billion a year, had grown out of control.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/20/us/politics/house-passes-bill-cutting-40-billion-from-food-stamps.html) Um…isn’t part of the reason for that is because thousands of “the American people” were thrown into economic despair because of the Great Recession, which was caused by the machinations of corporations who became more wealthy on the backs of …”the American people?”

Aren’t people with pre-existing conditions, people who are unemployed, people with children who have serious medical issues and who are under the age of 27 with no insurance …are not they part of the quilt which makes up the body of “the American people?”

Mr. Boehner, and others …can you please explain who “the American people” are? Can we finally deconstruct this phrase so that we, “the American people,” can understand who you’re talking about?

Because it just seems that a huge swath of “the American people” have been left out of the club.

A candid observation …