A New Visions Commentary paper published October 1996 by The National Center for Public Policy Research, 501 Capitol Court, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002, 202/543-4110, Fax (202) 543-5975, E-Mail [email protected]
As the anniversary of Martin Luther King's speech in Washington, D.C. passed, the Democrats staged their convention. Since the advent of the Civil Rights movement, African-Americans have looked towards the Democratic Party to help them fulfill their dream of achieving equality in America. Until this time in history, the liberal wing of the party has been the torch bearers of the fight for equality. The recent Democratic convention, still attended by mostly liberal delegates, should give pause to many black Americans who still look to liberals as their leaders.
For the past thirty years, liberals have aided African-Americans by opening the doors of opportunity. Their leaders, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, proceeded by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and other liberal leaders and their organizations led proactive movements to ensure equality for blacks and all Americans. They have a long record of achievement and deserve due credit for their accomplishments. The Democratic convention, however, was the culmination of stale thinking and outdated ideas. Martin Luther King's Dream died at the Democratic convention, and the same liberals who once made it burn so brightly, without remorse, extinguished the last flame. Liberals may still claim their fight is about King's Dream, but their real rallying call is around government domination of individual will.
Liberalism has now gone too far. Liberal leaders, some of whom marched with King, have rejected the mantra of "I Have A Dream" and "Keep Hope Alive" for "I Have A Program." The President offered a program for everyone and everything. As he promises endlessly, I have started to look for my remote control -- and then stopped -- in the hopes that the President might create a program to make sure people like me receive remote control finders after he creates an agency to regulate the public contractors responsible for making them.
Liberal leaders have now been reduced to defending the status quo, complaining about the crumbling of their empire as the budgets of the American people can no longer keep up with their ambitious plans of a government program for everyone and a government agency for every program. For the 21st century, they offer the black community not the fire of King's dream, but the cold shower of a stale ideology.
The speeches of three black Americans at the Republican convention highlighted the differences between what the old liberal leadership doesn't offer that the new American leadership does. Retired General Colin Powell, former welfare mother Star Parker and Congressman J.C. Watts all discussed how they realized the American Dream. They did not dwell on any adversity they had suffered, but they did not deny it either. For them, the adversity they suffered only made their success more satisfying. They spoke to the children of America about possibility and hope. They did not speak of inability, or more government intervention. They re-ignited the flame of Martin Luther King Jr. In the words of Rep. J.C. Watts, "When it comes to the American Dream, no one has a corner on the market. All of us have an equal chance to share in that dream. In my wildest imagination, I never thought that the fifth of six children born to Helen and Buddy Watts -- in a poor black neighborhood, in the poor rural community of Eufala, Oklahoma -- would someday be called Congressman. But then, this is America... where dreams come true."
The movement toward equal opportunity for everyone must continue. The torch burned with the liberal leadership for years, and almost all of the statistics indicate that while some black Americans have prospered, many have not. The burning fire of King's Dream must be reignited if hope is to be restored for a better America. The new black leadership (i.e., J.C. Watts, Clarence Thomas, etc.) bear the torches that will march us into the 21st Century, as our liberal leaders offer us only a regression into the misery of the dark ages.
by Stuart DeVeaux, a member of the national Advisory Council of the African-American leadership group Project 21, who has served on numerous political campaigns and in the offices of several public policy organizations, including Empower America and Black America's PAC.
Note: New Visions Commentaries represent the views of their author and not necessarily those of Project 21.
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