“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Equality is a cornerstone of our democracy. It has been at the forefront of political and social debate since our founding fathers, mothers, sons and daughters committed high treason and sought to end the King of England’s tyranny over the thirteen colonies. It is tragic the men who gathered in Philadelphia in 1787 to draft our Constitution could not come up with an end to slavery.
Many years later, a group of like-minded, freedom-loving people gathered “Under the Oaks” just outside of Jackson, Michigan. These people shared a common belief that slavery in the United States must end. It was July 6, 1854 when these individuals met to form the Republican Party. Committed to equality and justice for all, this group ascended the steep hill of national politics quickly winning many elections the following November and had its crowning moment with the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States in 1860. Lincoln, of course, abolished slavery in the United States.
Today, sadly, the Democrat presidential primary has turned into a battle of race, class and gender warfare. Nowhere is this better illustrated than yesterday’s speech by Senator Obama in Philadelphia, where he said, “But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now.” This statement is a direct contradiction to the message he has put forth heretofore in his presidential campaign. Senator Obama has made his candidacy and this presidential contest about race, which he claimed he would not do. Senator Obama needs to choose a side in this debate. Is he the candidate of “race matters”, or will he be the candidate of unity and hope, looking beyond race as well as class and gender?
It may be Senator Obama does not know the answer to this question. It is fair, however, to say, time will tell.
It is important for all Americans to move beyond race. As our founders said and believed, we are all created equal. Republicans believe in the inherent natural strength in each and every individual. The Republican Party, was founded by anti-slavery leaders. Republicans have been on the front lines of the social and cultural changes throughout American history. The first woman elected to serve in the Congress was Jeanette Rankin of Montana in 1916. A Republican, she also was a leader of the Woman’s Suffrage movement throughout the United States and continued her work in the U.S. House when elected.
If we are to move fully beyond race we must break the flawed system of classification, which currently exists. The original intent and spirit of Affirmative Action and civil rights legislation is honorable. Sadly, the outcome has proved the inherent flaw of the system: it mandates we divide our own society. Rather than being “American first,” there exist qualifiers which people feel necessary to use to designate each other: Spanish-American, African-American, Asian-American, etc…
First and foremost, we are human beings. Let us as Americans, the freest nation on earth, work together to create stronger communities and neighborhoods for our children. Now is the time.
As Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican President said, “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” Our responsibility today is to work to create a stronger, more secure America for future generations. I suggest we start by removing the chains of race which have divided our country for too long and begin anew without classifications and with a spirit of equality never before seen in this world’s history.
The campaigns of Senators Obama and Clinton have not helped to heal America’s racial divide. They have reopened many old wounds while creating new ones. In doing so they have revealed themselves and their party for whom they truly are: Democrats who look to profit from America’s racial woes rather than solving them.