Images, ideas, and emotions that occur involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep constitute dreams, but dreams can be conscious beliefs, hopes or goals someone wishes to accomplish for a positive outcome in a perfect world. For most Americans who are not ensconced in right-wing extremist ideology of racial and religious purity inherent in a Christian Aryan society, a dream for a nation in which “all men are created equal” is as attractive today as it was for Thomas Jefferson who penned those famous words in the Declaration of Independence nearly 237 years ago. As the nation remembers Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy and dream of an America fulfilling Jefferson’s “self-evident” assertion that all men are created equal, it is evident that King’s dream is unattainable so long as Republicans promote inequality.
It is readily apparent the biggest obstacle to Dr. King’s dream of a society founded in equality for all is the Republican Party he was affiliated, and since the election of an African American President, they have expanded their inequality agenda to include women, the poor, gays, and any American not aligned with extremist Christians and anti-government neo-conservatives on the right. In fact, King’s party epitomizes the obstacles to equality he fought against during his activism, and as if racial bigotry was not a big enough barrier to overcome, Republican have erected a wall of separation with the sole intention of perpetual inequality favoring the wealthy, fundamentalist Christians, and bigots of all stripes.
There is no doubt America has moved closer to achieving Dr. King’s dream of a nation where “sons and daughters of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood,” or that all children will one day “live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” In many parts of the nation, Dr. King’s Utopian dream of “little black boys and black girls joining hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers” is a reality and not the exception to the rule, but despite this nation twice electing an African American man as President based on the content of his character and drive to halt the injustice of inequality, Republicans across the nation propagate suspicion and hate towards women, minorities, gays, non-Christians, and the least fortunate among us to promote their dream of a theocratic oligarchy and a peasant population to serve the rich.
Two of Dr. King’s dreams; America transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice, and the extinction of “interposition and nullification” are anathema to Republicans, and their call for divisiveness is the biggest impediment to equality since the Civil War and threatens a unified America. The last election and Republican legislative agenda highlighted the GOP’s attempt to restrict voting rights, economic freedom, and personal liberty of the poor, minorities, women, gays, and non-Christians to drive wedges between Americans that exceed political ideology. There were deliberate attempts to perpetuate inequality and embolden Americans clinging to Civil War, Puritanical, and corporatist sensibilities that is increasing despite the results of the last election.
It is possible, at some point in the future, to achieve Dr. King’s dream of a nation where every citizen is equal, but it will take more than just lofty words and altruistic ambitions. The bigotry infecting the population notwithstanding, Republicans must abandon their favoritism for the rich, fundamentalist Christians, and big business and work to eliminate income inequality affecting the majority of the population, and it is imperative they support and defend freedom from religious imposition they promote to pit Americans against each other. The GOP must also cease obstructing President Obama’s efforts to foster an economic environment that gives every American an equal opportunity for financial security that Republicans are wont to reserve for the privilege few, or the people will never be free and equal.
Martin Luther King Jr. fought against bigotry and injustice, and although he fought a gallant battle for a noble cause, his primary enemy was racial bigotry. Today, the enemy is a small army of wealthy corporatists, religious extremists, and racial bigots unique to the Republican Party that oppresses women, gays, minorities, the poor, seniors, and even Veterans, and although they are a formidable foe, the American people sent a strong message in the last election that all Americans deserve equal treatment giving a modicum of hope for a nation united by equality.
Dr. King’s legacy is not that he fought for racial parity, but that he fought injustice, and his legacy is still alive in Americans who understand the only way to “transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood,” is to “work together, struggle together, and stand up for freedom together.” After the last election, it is evident Americans understand that by rejecting religious extremism, economic inequality, and racial bigotry inherent in the Republican Party, America will “be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope,” and by following Dr. King’s example, it is possible that all Americans will be “free one day” and finally be able to say with unreserved confidence that “all Americans are equal” regardless their color, gender, sexual preference, or economic station. Bigotry can only be eradicated when all Americans enjoy economic and social equality, and as long as Americans continue rejecting Republicans promulgating inequality as an ideology, Dr. King’s legacy will live on and his dream will stay alive.