In his 1835 masterpiece, Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote:
Among the new things that attracted my attention during my stay in the United States, none struck me more forcibly than the equality of conditions. I readily discovered what a prodigious influence this basic fact exerts on the workings of society. It imparts a certain direction to the public spirit and a certain shape to laws, establishes new maxims for governing, and fosters distinctive habits in the governed.
If, after a lengthy period of observation and sincere meditation, people were to become convinced that the gradual and progressive development of equality was at once their past and their future, the process would immediately take on a sacred character . . .
To educate democracy—if possible to revive its beliefs; to purify its mores; to regulate its impulses; to substitute, little by little, knowledge of affairs for inexperience and understanding of true interests for blind instinct; to adapt government to its time and place; to alter it to fit circumstances and individuals—this is the primary duty imposed on the leaders of society today.
As true now as ever, de Tocqueville’s observations find renewed expression in the political activism and speeches of the Reverend Dr. William Barber. An inspired instrument of moral good with a practical agenda, Barber represents many who have labored for decades in the interest of justice, equality, liberty, and, yes, love.
In case you missed his speech
at the DNC, we offer it here, along with two earlier speeches:
one from a 2016 convention
of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.
His message is a powerful antidote to the moral ambiguity, indifference, cynicism, and polarity that threaten to rule our time.