Break the Chains, Says Joe
There was something almost charming about Vice President Joe Biden (D) playing the race card last week, singing the "They'll put y'all in chains" number with a great big stage wink. After all, when you play the race card, you are supposed to inject real fear into your African-American audience, not do a soft-shoe routine.
But perhaps the vice president, diligently discharging his duties, was merely seconding Walter Russell Mead's motion for a new Race Compromise, although the presiding officer of the United States Senate is supposed to limit his activities to breaking a tie vote.
In the current American Interest, Mead leads us through the whole shabby history of race compromise in the United States, starting with the Compromise of 1787, a Constitution that "effectively banned Congress from interfering with slavery in the states" but balanced that by counting slaves as three-fifths of a person when apportioning seats in Congress.
Then it was on to the shabby Compromises of 1820, 1840, and 1854 that renegotiated the territorial limits of slavery. Unfortunately for the spirit of compromise, the brilliant Sen. Stephen Douglas (D-IL) overreached in 1854 with the Kansas-Nebraska Act and provoked the creation of the Republican Party and the rise of the Civil War.
Twenty years later, the political establishment crafted the shabby Compromise of 1877. The South accepted the questionable election of Rutherford B. Hayes, and the North ended Reconstruction, setting up 80 years of Southern segregation and Jim Crow.
Fast-forward to the decade of civil rights, with Brown v. Board of Education and the Civil Rights Acts. It ended, according to Mead, in the unofficial "Compromise of 1977," when Southerner Jimmy Carter was elected president.
One can call the post-civil rights era that began in 1977 a settlement or a compromise because, once again, it balanced various claims and demands. At its core, the compromise offered blacks unprecedented economic opportunity and social equality, but it also allowed for the stern and unrelenting repression of inner-city lawlessness and crime.
So we got affirmative action and majority-minority congressional districts to increase minority numbers in Congress.
But now the Compromise of 1977 is dead. It was well-intentioned, of course. It affirmative-actioned blacks into the middle class with government jobs and into affordable housing with Fannie, Freddie, and the Community Reinvestment Act. It elected the nation's first black president.
But it ended in failure. Blacks have suffered disproportionately from the housing bust, and the first generation of blacks in government jobs is getting its pension just as governments go broke. Foreign multinationals stay away from minority areas, and the decline of manufacturing is worst in areas where blacks live. Hello, Detroit.
The Compromise of 1977 has failed, and so, Mead gently suggests, a new compromise is needed, because the end of the "blue social model" means that "given the special circumstances and unique history of black America, those who want to get past blue are going to have to reckon with black."
Let's see if I get this right. After the liberals screwed the working class by shoving them into unionized "good jobs at good wages" that priced themselves out of the market by the end of the 1970s, after liberals shoved blacks into the liberal affirmative action plantation that has now failed from general corruption and the law of unintended consequences, and after liberals shoved blacks into "affordable" housing that crashed around their ears, now we are supposed to pull the liberals' chestnuts out the fire for them, with our money?
Forget it, pal, because there is. No. More. Money.
Anyway, before we start compromising, what about all the other little darlings of the liberal welfare state? What about the government workers and their unfunded pensions? What about women and their right to own their own bodies with taxpayer-funded hormones and abortifacients? What about Hispanics and their DREAM? What about gays and marriage equality? What about the climate tipping point? What about the bundling crony capitalists? And what about Granny and Medicare as we know it? Don't they have a right to peacefully protest and present their demands before the next fix is in on race?
It's a little early to be counting on a compromise as the solution to our current troubles. The Compromises of 1877 and 1977 came when the political warriors were ready for a time-out after a decade or more of brutal political strife. Give us a decade of municipal bankruptcies, federal bailouts for California and Illinois, pitched battles on Medicare and ObamaCare, and a taste of sovereign debt default. Then people will be ready for the Compromise of 2027.
Meanwhile, don't despair. Slow Joe Biden will save y'all from the chains of the next Jim Crow.
Christopher Chantrill is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. See his usgovernmentspending.com and also usgovernmentdebt.us. At americanmanifesto.org he is blogging and writing An American Manifesto: Life After Liberalism.