Monday, February 29, 2016

Time Marches On

Let me begin by saying that this is a politically focused piece of writing, but I'm not going to be making endorsements or damnations. You have your disclaimer.

Among the most hateful speeches for segregation the nation had ever seen, Governor George Wallace of Alabama famously declared his support for "segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever" in his first inaugural address. This famously led to mass protests and civil rights action in Montgomery on behalf of such giants as John Lewis and Dr. King. Following the application of a black decorated Navy veteran to the University of Alabama, Wallace famously barred the schoolhouse door personally, delivering rhetoric with the protection of the National Guard. Now, anyone acquainted with American history knows that the Kennedy's didn't let that happen for too long and the march of history resulted in the defeat of segregation and victory of truth, justice, and the American way.
The part that many forget or don't know is that George Wallace later realized the error of his ways. At the 30 year commemoration of the Selma-Montgomery march, the very protest he ordered attacks onto, Gov. Wallace sat with the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a man he had previously sought to stop from marching. As Judas realized his grave wrongs at the end of his life, Gov. Wallace realized the error of his ways. During the 1982 election, he sought the forgiveness of those he wronged, and even got significant support from the black community in Alabama
In that term, Wallace greatly expanded social programs including education and healthcare in the state. Does this excuse the hate he stirred, the bones he ordered broken, or the walls he reinforced between Americans? Probably not, and his legacy as a hatemonger is probably warranted, but during an election where my party is very concerned about the history of Mrs. Clinton, I feel it only fair to interject that people can, in fact, change for the better, and we should never count someone as eternal evil. While wrongdoings do deserve punishment, the people of Alabama would have missed out on a great deal of progress for the better if they had not forgiven the evils of George Wallace's segregationist policies.
So, Hillary Clinton. While she might have made some mistakes more recently that will hopefully be looked further into by concerned authorities, why should her time as a Republican be held against her? HRC interned with, and campaigned for Barry Goldwater, a Republican presidential candidate who was less than progressive for civil rights. As a party, we don't exactly want a conservative prone to campaigning against civil rights and universally opposing welfare. The thing thing is, that's not Hillary anymore, and it hasn't been for a while. As early as the 90s she was already supporting liberal ideals like Universal Health Care. Before this cycle, and her alleged sins as Secretary of State, Clinton also supported lowering tuition and an infrastructure stimulus. Are those really so terrible a history? People change, and we, both the Democratic Party and the American people need to realize that people can change for the better.
Don't believe me? Look at a martyred hero of the Democratic party from the Bush administration, Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia. Sen. Byrd is often respected for being the only major opposition in the Senate to the disastrous invasion of Iraq in addition to other major achievements for liberals in his long time spent with the U.S. Senate. Byrd's foreshadowing speech to the Senate about Iraq is often sighted as an example of the greatness of the Democratic Party. That is to forget his prior position as an Exalted Cyclops with the Ku Klux Klan. Now, that comes with the note that there is little, if any evidence of personal acts of hatred against any of the numerous targets of the Klan, but that's kind of my point. Byrd has attested on numerous occasions that he used the Klan as a means of launching himself into politics, and from there, he did good things. He made great actions as politician that greatly benefited both his nation and his state, and wrote of his time as a Klan leader with nothing but shame. We don't remember him today as a racist or a villain, but as the noble man making a lone stand against a wrongful war on a foreign land that history will remember as a mistake. If his constituents had decided to perpetually hold the ghosts of his past against him, they would have lost out on the great man he became.
These examples don't just go for liberals; remember, Ronald Reagan also spent a respectable portion of his life as a Democrat before switching parties, and that's not where his faults for the Republican party ended. While his policies, now known collectively as Reaganomics, are the moral backbone of conservative economic policies, but also saw America spiraling into debt like never before. For those who would debate that point, there is no debate that his views on gun control did not fall in line with the Republican party at large, then or now. Pres. Reagan supported gun control, specifically calling out the banning of the AK-47 and  other assault rifles as not abridging the Second Amendment, arguably getting the ball rolling for the other Clinton's federal ban on assault rifles. That is not the legacy he hold in the party, he is remembered as a beacon of fiscal responsibility, and not a mention to be made of his stance on guns, a probable political suicide for any Republican in the modern political atmosphere. Once again a major hero of his party is forgiven for the contributions he made for their cause.
Now, this is far from an endorsement of Clinton, I feel the Bern, or an attempt to forget the racial prejudice and hatred of the past. Those are very important parts of history, and should be remembered, but don't forget that people can change for the better, and focus on the present. If living in your own past is harmful to you, living in the pasts of others is also selfishly posing a detriment onto everyone. In politics, candidates should be seen for who they are, not for who they were.
The argument of past supports are a thin argument to distract from what candidates believe in the here and now. The arguments of the past are only of value in where they brought their arguers. Wallace atoned for his wrongdoings, Byrd remembered his past with embarrassment, Reagan is enshrined as a hero. If she stops Sanders, perhaps I will back her into an era of change. How long a grace period should be given to forget the past? Decide for yourself, it's your vote. For the sake of everyone, just educate yourself and cast it.