History and the Future

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By Randy Price

In an effort to deal with the unconventional administration now in power,  a look at our past can sometimes provide both solace and inspiration.

We have all heard about alternative facts echoing through the political landscape.  I submit it’s an American thing.  Part of our exceptionalism.

Let me explain what I mean with a couple of examples:

Remember the Alamo!  The rallying cry for freedom and the birth of the republic of Texas…right?  That’s what we were taught in school, but here’s what was really going on.  Texas was part of Mexico at the time and the Mexican government had passed laws banning slavery and cutting off immigration from the United States.  The 30 thousand or so Americans living in the territory didn’t like that and led a revolt. Mexico eventually lost Texas and the new republic joined the U.S. …as a slave state.

I bet you thought the pilgrims came to America for religious freedom and to escape persecution from the Church of England.  Yes…but, the truth is the English pilgrims first went to Amsterdam but were afraid their kids were getting too “Dutch”, which led them to make the voyage to America.  When they arrived in the New World they outlawed non puritan religions, Jews, Catholics, any kind of papist and atheist, requiring membership in an approved church before being allowed to vote.  It wasn’t until our founding fathers wrote religious freedom into the constitution …that the concept of the separation of church and state begin to take hold in this country.

Alternative facts?  No… more like the movie version of a snapshot. But we are taught the abridged, snapshot version and that flat image becomes fact!  The truth is always more complex and enlightening.

Now, the future part.

What have we learned from history that we can apply today? First, most things aren’t what they seem on their face.  If someone…a friend, a politician, republican, democrat or none of the above…anyone…tells you something, you have to research the information to see if it is true or not. We can’t just accept what they say as fact and truth.  We have to do our part and dig a little deeper…find out what is behind their ideas and see if you agree or disagree.  That makes us an informed electorate and makes it much harder to be misled by oversized or outlandish promises.

In the effort to be completely transparent here…I am a democrat.  And like most of the liberal persuasion, I take what republicans say with a huge grain of salt…but we must also hold democrats or anyone who would represent our ideas in public office…to the scrutiny of investigation.

Since the election of 2016 there has been a groundswell of participation in rally’s across the county.  I believe a giant has awoken.  Those who didn’t have time to pay attention to politics before have received a shock in the new administration. Conservatives are decrying these protests as un-American, (which I would suggest they reread the 1st amendment to the constitution), and as rabble rousers and paid protesters.  That’s what progressives said about the early Tea Party.  We were wrong then and they are wrong now.  It remains to be seen if the activism will be sustained, but don’t bet against it.

We all have to do our part.  Take politics and governing seriously.  Fight the apathy of “my vote doesn’t matter” and “it’s all about the money…we don’t stand a chance”.  Call AND email your Congressperson and Senator. Show up at town halls and let them know what you think.  Run for office!

Something we and our representatives seem to have forgotten is that we hired them.  They work for us.  Not just the ones who voted for them but all of their constituents.

I will leave you with one last story from history that you might think you know, but do you?  Emma Lazarus was the middle child of a rich New Yorker…she was a poet…thought of Ralph Waldo Emerson as a friend and mentor. In the early 1880s she was involved in supporting Jewish refugees from Russia.  When the French made a gift of the Statue of Liberty to our country she wrote a poem for the auction to raise money to erect the base and statue.  Having garnered some fame as a poet her entry titled The Colossus sold for about $1500 …and was promptly forgotten. Lazarus died at the age of 37 in 1887.  In 1901 A friend of Emma’s , a descendant of Alexander Hamilton as a matter of fact, campaigned to have her friends poem cast in bronze and placed on the statue.  She got her wish in 1903 and now those famous words live for all to see…”She cries with silent lips…Give me your tired, your hungry, your huddled masses yearning to breath free”

Randy Price is a broadcaster of 40 years from Tennessee and a lifelong Democrat. “I know those don’t seem to go together”.

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