March 4, 2021

Progressive America

By Glenn

I am proud to live in Modern America.  America is a progressive country.  Our democracy allows us to create laws to improve our lives.  Over the past 230 years much has changed for the better.

The progress has been slow but steady.  In the 1820s white laborers won the right to vote.  In the 1870s African American men won the right to vote.  They saw that right curtailed under Jim Crow, but won it again in the Civil Rights movement.  Women slowly gained political rights from the 1920s to the 1960s.

With political freedom came economic gains.  Too many people today falsely claim that politics doesn’t matter.  History teachers us, however, that political power precedes economic gains.

Of course there was push back all along the way.  People with political and economic power claimed expanded rights meant the destruction of America.

Not only is America still standing, America is stronger and more prosperous. American prosperity rests on our ability to address social injustices and economic disparities. 

Abraham Lincoln won his election in 1860 by promising to stop the expansion of slavery.  He argued slavery hurt white farmers as well as the slaves themselves.  Southern plantations owners argued slavery benefited the entire nation.  They boldly claimed ending slavery would kill the South.

Ironically, it was those very same individuals who attacked American democracy and ruined their region of the country for generations.  Their descendants then passed on the myth of Northern aggression and their hatred for the federal government.

Despite these constant attacks, America didn’t abandon the South.  During the Great Depression, the former New York Governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt could have focused on helping the most populous and successful cities.  Instead he invested in all of America.

Rural areas like Texoma received funds for economic development.  Projects were as big as electrification and as small as trails in Loy Lake park. Americans needed work, and the federal government provided it.

FDR’s “can do” spirit continued after World War Two.  The federal government built the Interstate Highway system.  It expanded Social Security to include Medicare.   The federal government forced the states to expand Civil Rights and economic liberty to women and minorities. 

The post war era also saw a whole host of consumer protections and innovations. Can anyone imagine today getting into a car without a seat belt or an airbag?   Do we really want to return to restaurants, shopping centers and hotels polluted with cigarette smoke?

America is a better place today because our ancestors made it better.  They saw problems and proposed legislative solutions.  I am proud of what American progress.  Let’s continue that tradition.

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