Consensus, the Civil Rights Movement, and DACA

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. challenges our ideas of “consensus,” while national politicians continue the battle to protect the right to citizenship for immigrants.

Will you work, in the words of Dr. King, to “tirelessly organize widespread struggle?” 

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“A consensus orientation is understandably attractive to a political leader. His task is measurably easier if he is merely to give shape to widely accepted programs. He becomes a technician rather than an innovator. Past Presidents have often sought such a function. President Kennedy promised in his campaign an executive order banning discrimination in housing. This substantial progressive step, he declared, required only ‘a stroke of the pen.’ Nevertheless, he delayed execution of the order long after his election on the ground that he awaited a ‘national consensus.’ President Roosevelt, facing the holocaust of an economic crisis in the early thirties, attempted to base himself on a consensus with the N.R.A.; and generations earlier, Abraham Lincoln temporized and hesitated through years of civil war, seeking a consensus before issuing the Emancipation Proclamation.

In the end, however, none of these Presidents fashioned the program which was to mark him as historically great by patiently awaiting a consensus. Instead, each was propelled into action by a mass movement which did not necessarily reflect an overwhelming majority. What the movement lacked in support was less significant than the fact that it had championed the key issue of the hour. President Kennedy was forced by Birmingham and the tumultuous actions it stimulated to offer to Congress the Civil Rights Bill. Roosevelt was impelled by labor, farmers and small-businessmen to commit the government in revolutionary depth to social welfare as a constituent stimulus to the economy. Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation under the pressure of war needs. The overwhelming national consensus followed their acts; it did not precede them.

The contemporary civil rights movement must serve President Johnson in the same fashion. It must select from the multitude of issues those principal creative reforms which will have broad transforming power to affect the whole movement of society. Behind these goals it must then tirelessly organize widespread struggle.”

Continue the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s essay here. 

“Without a solution for Dreamers, Democrats won’t agree to any deal to raise budget caps that both parties say they need.

Funding for federal agencies runs out on Jan. 19, and McCarthy and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) have already stated that they will move a short-term spending bill next week to avoid a shutdown. It’s not clear whether House Republicans can pass such a bill on their own — as Democrats won’t help them without a Dreamers agreement in hand — or how Senate Democrats would respond.

Yet the White House has already rejected the bipartisan senators’ agreement, and House Republicans are opposed as well. GOP leaders prefer a deal to come from the ‘Two Group’ — the name given to the discussion among party whips — although that group doesn’t look like it is going to reach consensus anytime soon, if ever.”

Read all of Politico’s coverage here.



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