By Alan S. Chartock | January 15, 2021

Our country has never been in this kind of trouble. We were all glued to our televisions and radios, watching in horror as thousands of miscreant know-nothings invaded our Capitol and put their filthy hands on so much that is sacred. Usually this column is written about subjects having to do with state politics but in this case, national news takes priority. Somehow a crazy man, Trump, managed to convince hordes of people that he was the answer. You know why? I’ll tell you why. This country has always had a racist streak a mile wide. Think Civil War. Those people are still with us. Now, little by little, the oppressed underclass has grown until they were about to be the majority. The racists, fearing the end of their primacy, became enraged.

Martin Luther King saw it coming. To him, it was never just about people of color but about all those who were exploited by the wealthy and privileged. He said he had a dream and he did. Now it was happening and those foolish people who had always been distracted by the Trumps and the money makers realized the walls were closing in on them. They yelled “socialist” and “communist” and “Antifa” and they were too stupid to get it — to understand that they were being played, big time. So they invaded the Congress and showed up at state capitals all over the United States. It really doesn’t matter that they didn’t, and will not, succeed.

The game is up and, as we learned in Spanish class, “This is the last cry of the Moor.” They are in the process being toppled from power and the poor fools thought they had nothing to lose. Insurrection followed. They tromped through the halls of Congress, waving their Confederate flags and wearing their anti-Semitic tee shirts.

To bring us where? They answered, “Back to 1776.” Does anyone really think that these folks were sitting in the front of their history classes with their hands raised? They were the bullies and jerks.

This is why education is so important. They climbed those walls and invaded that space with all the righteousness of hundreds of years of being pushed around and manipulated by those in power. Now it is up to all those people who live in states with high standard education systems to say “no” to the gun toting, flag-waving jerks who so often don’t wear protective masks and put everyone else at risk.

That’s why I suspect that the Mason-Dixon line becomes so important in recognizing where these very dangerous people come from. Oh, we know we have some of these folks in New York and Massachusetts but there is a sensibility here that you won’t see in so many of the emerging southern places that give us the likes of Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley. When Lyndon Johnson gave his famous “We Shall Overcome” speech written by Doris Kearns Goodwin’s husband, Richard Goodwin, the then President apparently said, “Well, there goes the South.” Was he ever right! Of course, there are some wonderful, educated and progressive people in our southern states. There just aren’t enough of them.

We have a very divided nation but, if you keep your eyes on places like Georgia and Texas, you’ll see that there is a maturation process going on. Change is in the air. Astoundingly, two Democrats won Senate seats in Georgia. Most people thought that they wouldn’t win but they did. But make no mistake, Republicans still run Georgia.

These are tough times in America but the chickens are coming home to roost. Each state will have to recognize that its government is not immune from what we saw at the Capitol the other day. En garde!

Alan Chartock is professor emeritus at the State University of New York, publisher of the Legislative Gazette and president and CEO of the WAMC Northeast Public Radio Network. Readers can email him at [email protected].