This past week, we commemorated two landmarks in our nation’s long march toward full equality and democracy — the 79th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, civil rights leader and champion of workers and all oppressed people, and the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that upheld women’s reproductive rights.
This year’s presidential campaign testifies to the profound changes that those two landmarks signified for our country, and indicates the forward direction that American voters are seeking.
Heading to the polls in unprecedented numbers, energized voters are rejecting 35 years of hate, fear-mongering and division pushed by the right wing.
The three Democratic frontrunners and the overall excitement they are generating show how the winds of change have transformed our political scene.
One of those candidates is an African American who has been winning enthusiastic support from enormous numbers of white voters. Another of those candidates could be the first woman president of the United States. The third has made unions and the working class the centerpiece of his campaign, and launched his candidacy in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward, the place that symbolizes the plight of African Americans and the working poor in this country.
It is a testimony to the American people that, with the successful fight for a national King holiday, we have brought King and the struggles he led to the forefront of the nation’s consciousness. It is a testimony to the American people that there is not and will never be a holiday to honor his persecutors like “Bull” Connor, George Wallace or J. Edgar Hoover.
It is a testimony to the American people that voters are rejecting reactionary “values issues” like the “keep women in their place” efforts to roll back women’s reproductive rights. The primaries indicate women are fired up and determined to put an end to the reactionary anti-woman politics of the Republican right.
The democratic struggles that we celebrate this month are finding new expression in this campaign. The people are on the move.