Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Opinion

June 10, 2014

We the People: Huddled masses

CROSSVILLE — This USA was founded by old white guys with money. They were the people who could afford to travel 400 miles or so on horseback and by carriage to Philadelphia to argue about the drafting of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. “All men are created equal” meant just that. Women and children were property, as were African Americans. Some of the founding fathers were slave holding landowners. Treaties with Native Americans were made and broken as the nation’s borders were expanded.

In the 19th century, waves of immigrants began arriving to seek their fortunes in the new land. Irish, Italian, Chinese and Eastern European Jews were all 19th century and early 20th century immigrants. The French gave us the Statue of Liberty to stand in the New York Harbor as greeting for the arriving “masses” of tired and poor. In the late 20th century we devised refugee programs to bring in folks from places like Cambodia and Vietnam and resettle them in a politically safe haven. Cubans came in boats to escape the tyranny of their island 90 miles away and form an influential group of Floridians. And now the Latinos from Mexico southward have established a major wave of immigration, both documented and undocumented, seeking a better life for their families.

No one will deny that these waves of immigration have had a major impact on our culture. All you need to do is to look at our food and listen to our music to begin to understand that impact. We should be proud of our diverse country and the cultural wealth that is the USA today.

Congress can no longer represent only the wealthy white guys, although they continue to be those most likely to be sent to Congress because of the ever increasing costs of campaigning for seats. Through most of the last half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st, most white guys in Congress realized they were there to represent ALL of their constituents, not just those with lots of money, property and industrial complexes. Women won the right to vote after over a century of struggle. African Americans won that right over a much longer period of disenfranchisement — some 400 years or so.

After World War II, this country saw the growth of a huge middle class made up of the descendants of all those waves of early immigrants. Generous veterans benefits for those returning from the war in Europe and the Pacific and a vibrant labor union movement, begun in the '20s and '30s, assured factory workers pay and benefits that swept them from poverty and long workweeks into the middle class and economic security.

And now the Republican Party, pushed and prodded by its Tea Party wing, is doing its best to maintain the old white guy foothold by catering to those who can buy them a seat in Congress. They want to return to the size of the federal government as it was in the 19th century. They want to do away with the programs that made this country great. Their narrow minded policies are dangerous. The country is beginning to wake up. Listen carefully. You can hear the discontent rising in the now-diminished middle class as those who became so successful after WWII sink back into poverty, thanks to big-money greed and anti-union politics.

 

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Tidbits: Taking a low-tech break

    Feeling increasingly strangled by my electronic leash, with phone, text messages, email, social media and a variety of other forms of communication always at my side, I took the weekend off.

    July 28, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Governing before and after mass corruption

    Laws in America were originally written simply. Every citizen could read them quickly and understand their meaning. The founders wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Northwest Ordinance and the Constitution of the United States, none of which was longer than 4,500 words.

    July 28, 2014

  • We the People: The last dance

    Charlie Hayden’s last recording session with his early partner, Keith Jarrett, was in 2007.  The songs they played were mostly melancholy.  The second album coming from that session includes Weil’s “My Ship” and Porter’s “Every Time We Say Goodbye.” The dark ballad “Goodbye,” by Gordon Jenkins, was the final track.

    July 22, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Living in a pressure cooker

    The Gaza Strip, a small Palestinian territory about the size of Washington, D.C., has been in the news almost every day.  Its key location at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea has attracted a number of occupying powers over the years, and it has  been at the center of much Middle East history.

    July 22, 2014

  • Tidbits: The excitement of election day

    On March 12, 1996, there were 427,183 votes cast in the presidential primary election. Among those votes was mine, the first vote I cast in an election, just two days after my 18th birthday.

    July 21, 2014

  • Raising the minimum wage

    My first job from which FICA was withheld was a minimum wage job, seventy-five cents an hour. And yes, even then no one could live on that little money. However, I was a high schooler living at home where my father provided room and board. The job gave me pocket money to buy gasoline, to take my girlfriend out for movies and burgers, and to buy tickets for baseball games.

    July 21, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Children on the move

    The news this past week has focused on the humanitarian crisis developing on our southern border. Thousands of unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras seeking to escape from the violence, human trafficking and extreme poverty in their countries have been entering the United States.

    July 15, 2014

  • We the People: Memo to gun rights groups

    The recent incident in California helps us understand why we cannot rely on mental health services alone to solve the problem of gun violence.

    July 15, 2014

  • Tidbits: Make the best of your road trip

    I didn’t care for road trips when I was young. It was so confining to have to sit in the back seat, staring out the window for hour after hour, hayfield after hayfield. And when you’re a kid, time doesn’t pass like it does when you get a little older. Just the trip from Jamestown, TN, to Crossville, roughly 30 miles, felt like an eternity!

    July 14, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Biased climate agenda will cost trillions

    For anyone who has been educated in the history of science and scientific method, this whole issue of “Global Warming” or “Climate Change” is an embarrassing and painful exercise.

    July 14, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Parade
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice
Graduation 2014