Monday, November 20, 2006

The Two Americas Waltz

Again the music begins, and with it a dance. One we've stepped to before. Call it the "Two Americas Waltz," if you like. The political failures of the recent past, flush with a midterm win, and seeking the White House prize in 2008, are cueing up the music, and polishing their shoes, choosing their partners and ignoring the less beautiful as they begin the waltz.

There was a time in early America, when the Puritans still held sway in New England, that a stream of thought said that if you were poor, you must be sinful. Indeed, to become poor meant that you had sinned greatly. This idea of poverty as a sign of a moral failing still haunts the American conscience to a certain extent. Thus we see John Edwards, failed Vice Presidential candidate, declaiming on the moral failings of America for allowing poverty to exist.

Forty years after the beginning of the War on Poverty, and trillions of dollars spent on the effort to eradicate poverty through government action, the same solutions are still being proposed to fight poverty. Which is to say, "throw money at the problem". No matter how much money has been thrown at the problem it continues to exist, outliving its original foes of the Great Society, who held the first, most lavish dance.

The problem all along has not been poverty per se, but ignorance. At first the ignorance was one of Society’s making, wherein black Americans were segregated, funneled into decrepit schools, ghetto-ized into professions that were menial, held less power, less prestige, and paid less than those allowed to whites. Thus was born the counter-step of the "Civil Rights Gavotte". Led by such notables as Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, and Rosa Parks, Ralph Abernathy and Shirley Chisholm, Medgar Evers and Mary Terrell. The Gavotte was so important it changed the American landscape and empowered all Americans, not just Black Americans to be everything they could be.

But for some, that was not good enough. Unable to accept the logic that equality of opportunity did not mean equality of outcome, they insisted on the "Two Americas Waltz," which insisted that any who earned more must be privileged and thus not dancing according to the rules. For these dancers, the purity of their souls over-rode all else.

There are indeed two Americas. But they are not Rich and Poor, or Black and White. The two Americas that exist today are Sense and Nonsense. Those who live in the America of Sense see the world as it is, seek to improve it through their own actions, and debate the methods to continue building a great America. Those who live in the America of Nonsense see an America of unimaginable poverty, racism, hatred, and despair. They seek to destroy the America of the Constitution by Judicial fiat, not through the consent of the people. To them America is not a place of endless opportunity, where your life is what you make of it, but a place where the Rich rule and despoil.

That America of Nonsense does not, in reality, exist, but is conjured on the dance floor with smoke and mirrors. Each time the dance is performed by its adherents, America suffers, and is impoverished; it is laid bare to the attacks of Tyrants and Savages, while the dancers ignore the blood and suffering of the people while insisting that it is all an illusion created out of the hate of the Rich. In short, America is endangered and made poorer whenever the Two Americas Waltz makes the national Hit Parade. And it is climbing the political charts again.

As for me, I don't care for the cotton candy tunes they play, the price they demand, or the smoke and mirrors we are expected to accept. While Al Gore and John Edwards circle the dance floor, with Nancy Pelosi and Alcee Hastings tapping their feet to the rhythm of the Left, we must remain outside the Hall, waiting for a better band to begin to play. It is up to us to call the tune, learn the dance numbers, and make the "Constitution Tap" the most popular dance around. And that means convincing Black America that education ain't a White Thing, but a Human thing, that excellence is not a sellout to the "Man" but the outcome of hard work and a life lived well.

So ignore the tunes jangling through the wall, and from the TV. Play your Constitution until it is a constant melody in your mind and a beloved harmony in your heart. GOD willing, we will sweep the country with our music, and then the world!


Joubert said...

Just beautiful. I guess I must be a Puritan because I still believe that God helps those who help themselves and that poverty is a sign of sin - the "sin against the Holy Spirit." I'm not religious but to me the "sin against the Holy Spirit" is the sin of not seeing that God is love and joy. If you give love and are joyful, you are rich. Misery is the real poverty not lack of material stuff.

Brooke said...

Hey, Benning! Good to hear from you again, and a great piece of writing!

a.k.a. Blandly Urbane said...

Damn fine post...would the "nonsensers" be dancing to the Dixie Chicks?

No offense intended to those that enjoy their music.

WomanHonorThyself said...

. The two Americas that exist today are Sense and Nonsense..brilliant!..right on spot as usual Benning!

Hopalong Cassidy said...


Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours while you are endeavoring to 'make the "Constitution Tap" the most popular dance around'. Personally I am thankful for Americans. In Canada we have two official languages, English and French, but if it wasn't for Americans I think the two official languages of Canada would now be German and Japanese.