Incremental History

I have heard ad nauseam these past months that big, bold change is foolish, unattainable, even dangerous. Now, if we put aside the multiple Historical examples where it happened (the ending of American slavery, the Trustbusting of the Progressive Era, the New Deal) or the awful catastrophes we had to wait patiently for in order to enact them (Civil War, Labor unrest, the Great Depression) and if we look proactively at the situation through the wide eye of History, there is a case to be made that we have been progressing very incrementally since the 1960s.

We’ve made strides here and there: Civil Rights, Environmental Protection, Health Care Reform, Equal Rights by gender, orientation, identification… each of these are little incremental pieces moving forward. For those who say some candidates are promising too much, too fast, there are millions of Americans saying the last few decades have done too little, and too slowly. Some of the ideas being thrown around in the Democratic Primary are not considered radical anywhere else in the developed world, and are not bold leaps forward but merely the steps that are necessary to take for this country to survive as a functioning Republic. You say you want incrementalism, I say it’s already here, and I am not alone. In the words of a famous Minnesotan:

My friends, to those who say that we are rushing this issue of civil rights, I say to them we are 172 years late. To those who say that this civil-rights program is an infringement on states’ rights, I say this: The time has arrived in America for the Democratic Party to get out of the shadow of states’ rights and to walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights.

Hubert H. Humphrey campaigned for human rights.
Healthcare is a human right.
Education is a human right.
Social mobility is a human right.
A living wage is a human right.
Opportunity is a human right.
Prosperity is a human right.
Free and fair elections are a human right.

To those who say we are rushing these issues, I say we are 68 years too late.

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