Sam Waltz: “Change is Gonna Come”
“A Change is Gonna Come,” recorded and released in 1964 by one of my favorite soul singers Sam Cooke, long has been my favorite civil rights anthem. (I hope you’ll go to YouTube and find it!)
What Cooke – who regrettably died way too early of violence – noted then tends to come in epochal waves.
I’ve seen them often in my years, beginning in the late 1960s into the early 1970s, peaking in 1968 with the violence that accompanied both the April 4th assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and that summer’s turbulent Democrat National Convention in Chicago.
Other peak episodes have occurred since.
Today, the summer of 2020, we’ve crossed the threshold of another one. What the future will look like remains to be written – I’ll speculate – but the forces have arrayed and converged.
Among the catalysts, of course, are the (1) Presidency of Donald Trump; (2) coronavirus pandemic; (3) “economic inequality;” (4) change agentry advocacy of Sen. Bernie Sanders, a cohort of Marxist Socialists; (5) followership and support by a growing contingent of “next generation” citizens. And the match: the evidence of racism in community policing of black communities.
This will come as a shock to many of us who are in senior leadership in America’s civic and business life. But it should not.
I’ve been involved in our civil rights struggle since the mid-1960s, when I started at the University of Illinois, where I became vice president of the Campus Democrats. Later, at the end of 1967, I volunteered to go to war in the US Army to fight against the threat and terror of godless Marxist global communism.
Our fight was about protecting “the American way of life,” characterized by a free society, free enterprise, rule of law, balance of powers in government between the branches and between federal and local governments. Our civil rights goal was not “equal outcomes,” seemingly today’s social goal, but “equal opportunity.”
“The elephant in the room” – unseen by so many of us but felt acutely by America’s underclass – was the racial and social bias and hatred.
Change is transformative, and the alchemy of change often requires “a change agent.”
In social change, where social justice is the new mountaintop, the alchemy of change is fueled by outrage, and it’s turbo-charged by anger and opportunity.
What so many of us who arguably comprise the civic and business elite have failed to recognize is that alternative visions of America have taken root and grown dramatically just beyond our sight lines, and they’ve been nourished by those change agents, those advocates. Today, that incubation is arriving in full bloom.
So what will it look like?
Political correctness, long a force in public life, achieves a new and elevated status. Private attitudes that result in behaviors, racism among them, no longer will be off limits. first amendment-protected full-throated debate over alternative visions will be circumscribed and limited by attribution of negative values (e.g., “racist.”)
Capital no longer is sacred but will become a community trust, subject to confiscation and redistribution for public rather than private purposes. Those who thought they and their ancestors had accumulated capital for family business economic leverage will be disappointed to learn that they’re regarded as caretakers, not owners.
Big Government, detested by the anti-1984 forces who thought that mid-century writers and intellects George Orwell and Ayn Rand had it right, will be disappointed to see the awesome power of government harnessed by those who want to impose change in their own image.
Government will use reparations to confiscate and reallocate resources to the benefit of the entitled, perhaps those who are descended from “America’s original sin” of slavery, so often described that way, most recently by Delaware neighbor Vice President Joe Biden. Left behind will be many others – those of us who may not be African-American but were disadvantaged by slavery’s depression of income and wealth-building opportunities among poor lower-class whites in the South and lower Midwest.
Inflation will be an important tool for America’s New Order, providing cover to those who would take income and wealth from those families who earned it to redistribute it to those who did not. America’s deficit simply has reached such magnitude that no government policy can retire it via the collection of public revenue in today’s dollars.
Inflation that has been carefully managed for a decade or more at a 2% annual level will be opened to unchecked growth that will make America long for the mid-1970s when it raged in years in excess of 10%.
New elites already are emerging, judged on new standards of political populism rather than traditional accomplishment in corporate and business hierarchies. In marshalling the new Marxist support, they will look dramatically different than today’s leadership, obviously more minorities and Muslims.
For many of us, that may seem a dismal future.
We need to recognize that for us, it’s a sign of hope, even an objective.
Sam Waltz is publisher emeritus of the Delaware Business Times.