July 2016. How many issues are truly crucial to the direction of American government? Some keen observers believe there is only one! A Georgia pundit comes to mind. Bill Shipp was a free lance columnist whose wisdom was usually focused on Georgia politics. He was moderate enough to get widespread coverage in small town papers like THE STATESBORO HERALD, where I had the pleasure of reading him from time to time. Bill used to write that in Georgia we really did not have but one overriding and burning issue: Are you for them or against them? Of course “them” was understood to mean those people who at the time politically represent the descendants of African slaves. In 1967 a young Alabama man, who later was a close aide to Alabama Governor Lurleen Wallace, said to me that where he came from people were sometimes said to be either regular folks or “nigger lovers”; to qualify for the latter category, he said, all that was necessary was to demonstrate that you really did not hate anybody. One issue politics!
Shipp and my Alabama friend did not make those remarks lately. The columnist wrote in the 1990s and the Wallace aide in the 1960s. Even earlier an adult cousin of mine informed me that there were two classes of people when it came to the law. There were the people who made the law; those folks were also the same as those who were above the law. Among the rest of the people the issue was which people were below the law and which ones were subject to it. If you took my cousin’s idea as true, the single issue of politics was the question of who was and was not subject to the rule of law. He personally preferred to keep Black folks and poor whites out of the decision making process because he believed that “the less there is for them then the more there is for me!” One issue politics!
The Trump seems to be campaigning on the issue of whether Americans deserve a government which will make America great again. if so, he insists we should elect him President because he, like us, is willing to use whatever means are at his disposal to take the world back to a time when we had the illusion that whatever the government of the U.S. wanted would be what it would get. Once that meant atomic bombs could be dropped by U.S. bombers on defenseless cities with complete impunity. Later it shrank to the ability to take over tiny places like Grenada and Panama with the same impunity. Recently the application of fifteen years of American firepower has been insufficient to keep the U.S. in charge of a backward desolate place like Afghanistan, and neither Democrats nor Republicans seem capable of economic polices which avoid the destruction of the privileges and powers of white middle class Americans. Never mind the complex and sometimes contradictory policy concerns which might make the middle class and patriotic Americans happy again. Are you for or against American greatness? One issue politics again! They have led to disastrous results before. Deja vu all over again.