The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

September 2, 2013

King's 'dream' realized, partly

(Continued)

Besides, with some Republicans on stage we might perhaps have heard fewer Democratic Party talking points and more come-together talk of national unity and bipartisanship. Remember those days?

The absence of Republicans symbolized how much more polarized our racial politics have become since King’s day. Senate Republican Leader Everett M. Dirksen of Illinois, for example, forged the coalition with President Lyndon B. Johnson that turned the 1964 Civil Rights Act into law — over the fierce objections of Southern segregationist Democrats.

Even if GOP leaders had shown up at the memorial to their party’s first president, they might well have faced a harder time from the right wing in their own ranks than from anything the liberal-leaning crowd would have expressed.

Looking back, it is easy to see how King’s speech was a turning point. It marked the beginning of the end for legal segregation by race and the beginning of his much tougher crusade against poverty — and racial suspicions.

Yet we also can see that the civil rights revolution drew our attention away from a quieter economic revolution that was transforming America: globalization. The industrial jobs that built America’s postwar middle class began to erode in the 1960s, producing wage stagnation. The civil rights movement ironically opened doors that enabled blacks to duplicate among themselves the same wealth and income gaps between rich and poor that divide white Americans. In recent decades those gaps among all Americans have been growing faster.

In his own address, the president would have had a hard time matching King’s riveting oratory, so he didn’t even try. He even lowered expectations a day earlier on “The Tom Joyner Morning Show,” warning that it “won’t be as good as the speech 50 years ago.”

And if he seemed a bit detached, he might have had a few other things on his mind, like Syria. How awkward it must have felt to be contemplating a new military action in the Middle East while honoring King, who in his blistering 1967 speech against the war in Vietnam excoriated “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government.”

It wouldn’t be easy for anyone to match the majesty of King’s “dream.” Still, I would have been impressed if the nation’s first African-American president offered us more of a plan to implement that dream. Even gridlock has some soft spots.

E-mail Clarence Page at cpage@tribune.com.

Text Only
Opinion
  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Expectations too high for a rehabbing Woods

    Tiger Woods finished near bottom last weekend at Royal Liverpool, drawing out his drought of major tournament wins. Despite the disappointing showing, Woods' return to form remains a matter of when, not if.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Todd Akin's back again to talk of rape So, Todd Akin is back and he’s talking rape again.You remember what happened last time. The would-be Missouri senator torpedoed his campaign two years ago after suggesting in a TV interview that if a woman is a victim of “legitimate rape,” she is unl

    July 22, 2014

  • Sadness remains as two-year mark passes in cousins' case As most citizens of the Cedar Valley are well aware, July 13 marked two years since the disappearance of cousins Elizabeth Collins and Lyric Cook-Morrissey of Evansdale.The passage of time provides some semblance of healing, but the sadness, particul

    July 22, 2014

  • UI needs to keep its admission standards high There’s been a lot of talk lately — most of it coming from the leadership of the Iowa state Board of Regents — about the University of Iowa not being passionate enough about its recruitment of in-state undergraduates. Regent president Bruce Rastetter

    July 21, 2014

  • Vote fraud myths meet voting rights reality Before she was allowed to register and vote for the first time in Franklin County, North Carolina, Rosanell Eaton had to read the entire preamble to the U.S. Constitution out loud in front of three men in the county courthouse.Eaton is black. The thr

    July 21, 2014 1 Story

  • 7-21-14 David Helscher mug Prepare for possible effects of Fed's decisions It has been more than 5 years since the Federal Reserve has taken unprecedented steps to support the economy through purchases of Treasury and mortgage-backed debt securities. This has generally been called quantitative easing and has not been withou

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • What it was like as a teen

    Ten years ago today, I’d like to think I was checking out educational books to prepare myself for my upcoming journey through college.

    In reality, I was probably playing video games and thinking of ways to have fun, while trying not to get into too much trouble.

    July 20, 2014

  • Randy Meier Spoofing practices resurface Spoofing is the practice deliberately falsifying a telephone number and/or name relayed to the caller ID feature of a phone. This type of call right now is the number one phone scam I receive. Many people report receiving calls appearing on caller ID

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Impeaching the president Sarah Palin is right about impeaching President Obama.No, not that the president should be impeached. But Palin is correct in arguing that, for those who assert that Obama has grievously abused his executive authority, impeachment is the proper cours

    July 18, 2014

  • Celebrate the renovated bandshell? Yes, but... I attended the ribbon cutting for the renovated bandshell on July 1. I was a proud member of the Vision 8 team that enabled the project. However, the previous Friday night, June 27, I was also a member of the cast of “Annie Get Your Gun.”When the Nat

    July 18, 2014

Poll

With the Clinton County Justice Coordinating Commission and the Clinton County Board of Supervisors discussing proposals to construct a new jail, do you think the time has come for Clinton County to construct such a facility?

Yes
No
     View Results
Facebook