The video of Dr. Martin Luther King's August 28, 1963, "I Have a Dream" speech did not capture the most important element that day. It did capture and recreate King's passionate and vivid summary of America's fearsome terrorism of racial oppression. However, it could not capture and recreate for new generations the perspective from which we Americans with dark-brown skin color viewed the events of that day. Mostly, we responded to it from the bulwark of self-images of dignity, reason, and morality that shielded our humanity from contamination by America's racist culture of brutal emotional and physical terrorism.
Without doubt, King was one of the world's most effective advocates for freedom achieved by nonviolence. Nevertheless, beliefs that a few compelling leaders are responsible for freedom is a big obstacle to gaining and preserving it. This belief makes people complacent to the duty of everyone in society to defend all encroachments on freedom. It is noteworthy that Americans of all skin colors attended that grand march for freedom on Washington D.C. August 28, 1963.
Just as people wrongly credit King for all successes of the Modern Civil Rights Movement, he and most Americans wrongly credit President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation for freeing American slaves. The Emancipation Proclamation says in part:
"That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free;"
Some slave states did not rebel against the Union. Therefore, the proclamation did not free nearly a million people enslaved within States that remained loyal to the Union. The 13th Amendment to the Constitution approved by the States in 1865 banned slavery everywhere in the nation.
I do not make this observation to lessen the importance President Lincoln's contribution to ending slavery and promoting freedom. Neither do I want to expand it. I am sure freeing four millions slaves by his proclamation-however effective only where the Union Army prevailed- was an impetus for States later improving the 13th Amendment. However, within the idea of presidential wartime authority to end slavery in enemy lands to hinder its war effort lurks the specter of support for presidential to enslave some of his people to strengthen his war effort. I am skeptical of the security of any freedom asserted on the authority on one person or government official.
Often, I hear the fearful lament, "We "black" people received our freedom from the 14th Amendment that government can revoke, but "white" people have freedom by birth and are safe from having it revoked." This is the type fear people endure from ignorance and why they should know the true source of their freedoms.
Section 1 of the 14th Amendment says, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the States where they reside." Therefore, all Americans receive citizenship the same way, and retain freedom by the truths stated in the Declaration of Independence of rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness." However, culture and not the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution decides freedom.
Culture decides how society interprets and enforces laws. Therefore, neither laws nor constitutional mandates have meaning in an immoral culture without integrity. A few years after the States approved the 14th Amendment; the U.S. Supreme Court supported the prevailing cultural idea of different races that should remain separate, but equal. This Court decision created the foundation for laws of racial segregation. This decision is one example how culture decided the meaning of laws, no matter the Constitution clearly names natural born and naturalized as the only legitimate categories government may use to decide citizens' rights. Probably, the name Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would not be an international symbol of freedom and nonviolence except for the Court's lack of morals that promoted cultural ideas of race over constitutional protections.
Ironically, many descendants of the Freedmen promoted ideas of an African American race and culture. Confused about the true principles of freedom, they advanced the culture of race based on skin color similar to the loathsome cultural practices of 19th and early 20th century. They were not alone. Other Americans declared separate Asian, white-European, and Latino ethnicities. Consciously aware of it or not, all of them support previous ideas of innate race difference that Americans of my generation discredited in the twentieth century civil rights movement for freedom.
America's founders wrote a Constitution the set out the power and authority of representative government for the Republic. Currently rogue members of Congress violate those principles with a coup or pursuit for power that shut down the federal government. From ignorance and media framing, the people fail to recognize this loss of liberty and attempt to control government by coercion. Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1816, "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."
Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution says, "All legislative powers granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives."
The two-chamber Congress provides a balance of power between the House of Representatives with members based on state population serving two-year terms and the Senate with two members from each state serving six-year terms. This balance helps provide fresh ideas from frequent turnover in the House and institutional stability from longer-termed Senators. Otherwise, America could have a new Congress and different legislative philosophy every two years with a resulting unstableness of government.
Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution lists many powers of Congress. Some powers are to lay and collect taxes, pay debts, provide for the defense and general welfare of the United States, borrow money on the credit of the United States and pass laws to execute those duties.
Undoubtedly, passing a budget and setting a debt ceiling are within the equal authority and duty of both the House and Senate. This Congress agreed to pass a Continuing Resolution and delay discussion of complex budget issues. A Continuing Resolution is, "Legislation in the form of a joint resolution enacted by Congress, when the new fiscal year is about to begin or has begun, to provide budget authority for Federal agencies and programs to continue in operation until the regular appropriations acts are enacted." The Continuing Resolution fulfills Congress primary duty to guarantee a continuously operating federal government that provides for the general welfare of the Republic.
The House did not forward a simple Continuing Resolution for the Senate to agree with as a legislative body of equal power and authority. Instead, the House Republican majority one-sidedly added an amendment to the resolution that changed an existing law, Affordable Care Act. It sent this amended resolution as legislation the Senate must concede to or face federal government shutdown from lack of funding. Clearly, this one-sided action by House Republicans was a strategy to seize an unequal share of power and authority over government spending and legislation from the Senate not granted by the Constitution. This House Republican action supported by the threat not to agree with simple Resolution and to shut down government was an unconstitutional seizure of power.
So far, Republicans managed to justify their attack on the Republic as a strategy to defund the Affordable Care Act and prevent high health insurance and healthcare costs. However, the United States ranks seventh highest in national wealth although unevenly divided. Americans have poor reasoning ability that decide possible Affordable Care Act costs threaten their liberty and the welfare more than Republicans' threats to shut down government.
History shows the movement in a society to unify power in one group or person increase rather than decrease. Other groups with goals to control government power beyond constitutional limits will copy House Republican Party members' extortion methods if they succeed using threats to extend power over legislation.
Congress also has the duty to set a debt limit, use of credit, to pay for spending during this fiscal year or a shorter period. Using their strategy of coercion, Republican House members refused to agree with a debt limit unless Senate Democrats conceded to a reduction of entitlements like social security. Once again, Republicans argue deceitfully that they resist raising the debt ceiling to limit spending by the Democrat Party and President Obama.
A U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) July 23, 2012 study about debt reduction policy disputes Republican claims about the purpose of the debt limit. It concluded, "The debt limit does not control or limit the ability of the federal government to run deficits or incur obligations. Rather, it is a limit on the ability to pay bills incurred." In other words, it limits the Treasury Departments ability to borrow money to finance the debt created by decisions already enacted by Congress. This conclusion is true given that tax revenue supports most government spending that can continue regardless of credit limits.
This same GAO study reported the federal government incurred more costs of billions of dollars when Congress delayed approving the debt limit until near its expiration date. This GAO description of debt management shows the insincerity of Republican Party members' reasoning for withholding approval of the debt limit.
The motives for Republicans' threats against the Republic are obvious if one ignores their rhetoric and decide them from the results they seek. They shut down the government to prevent the Affordable Care Act extending health insurances to lower-income families and Americans with existing health problems. They threaten to withhold approval of the debt limit and allow the Republic to default on debts to win concussions from Democrats to reduce social security benefits and Medicare coverage. Legislation to increase the federal minimum wage level or to provide for fair wages is objectionable to them.
I admit that much Democrat legislation and economic policy is economically unsound. Nevertheless, they promote policy motivated to improve the welfare of the people without threats to disrupt government operation. Congress can improve deficiencies in the proposed policies that mostly support goals set out in the preamble of the Constitution.
"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
I do not understand how anyone can believe that a political strategy that threatens to circumvent constitutional limits on government authority or that disrupt government services is in their best interest.