If Martin Luther King, Jr. were alive today, he would be 83 years old – young enough, potentially, to still be driving some of the national dialogue. We could use him now. He would have been gratified to discover that, finally, at long last, income inequality has become a major campaign issue.
I’m off the grid today, in a nod to the King federal holiday, and in recognition of the fact that his words, on his birthday, are certainly way more important than mine. He had much to say about income inequality back in his day; unlike Mitt Romney, he didn’t think the topic should be confined to “quiet rooms.”King never believed in quietude (“To cure injustices, you must expose them before the light of human conscience and the bar of public opinion”). His themes still resonate, even if the national will to translate those themes into action remains nil. Some key speech excerpts:
“True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth.”We Americans should not “compress our abundance into the overfed mouths of the middle and upper classes until they gag with superfluity. If democracy is to have breadth of meaning, it is necessary to adjust this inequity. It is not only moral, but it is also intelligent. We are wasting and degrading human life by clinging to archaic thinking.””We read one day, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.’ But if a man doesn’t have a job or an income, he has neither life nor liberty nor the possibility for the pursuit of happiness. He merely exists.””(It) is America’s opportunity to help bridge the gulf between the haves and the have-nots. The question is whether America will do it.”
True that. Happy birthday, Dr. King.——-Meanwhile, as the GOP race enters its most crucial week, only five candidates remain on the island. I’ll be tweeting tonight’s Fox News Republican debate in real time, and posting here tomorrow morning. ——-Follow me on Twitter, @dickpolman1