In the spirit of our president’s call to unity, let’s talk. I’m sick of fighting, and I imagine you are too. Let’s be allies, rather than adversaries, in a genuine discussion toward viable solutions.
First, I’ll surprise you with a couple of concessions. Consider these a show of good faith.
The war on poverty has failed. I won’t need to convince you, but for any skeptics I present Martin Luther King Jr.’s observations as evidence.
“Of the good things in life, the negro has approximately one-half those of whites; of the bad he has twice as much. Negroes have half the income of whites. There are twice as many unemployed. The rate of infant mortality among Negroes is double that of whites.”
Note that the citations are all from modern day. Existing programs have reduced material poverty as there are fewer people going hungry or unhoused than before, but they have done little to advance opportunity.
Is that not what we should be aiming to accomplish?
As you said in your column, “Our ultimate hope should not rest in government. Change always begins in the hearts and actions of individuals.”
Again, I present the words of King as evidence for the skeptic.
“Genuine integration will come when men are obedient to the unenforceable. Desegregation will break down the legal barriers and bring men together physically, but something must touch the hearts and souls of men so that they will come together spiritually.”
I take you at your word that you don’t oppose poverty reduction. And I hope you will demonstrate equal good faith. If we are genuine allies, take a look at the statistics I’ve cited above and consider these questions: What solutions does conservatism offer? How can faith, community and family address these issues?
I ask that conservatism's solutions go further than merely smaller government and slashing regulations. As evidence for what the government must do, I again defer to King.
“A society that has done something special against the Negro for hundreds of years must now do something special for him, in order to equip him to compete on a just and equal basis.”
Nicholas Baird is a former IU undergraduate (Chemistry BA, 2016) and current master’s student in public finance in the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs.