Friends of Padre Steve’s World,
For the past number of years I have been amazed at people who like me in the 1980s, 90s, and until 2008 vested their hope in all alleged “conservatives” to protect their rights, and to enhance their prosperity. I bought into their message for many years; “trickle down” was good, immigrants were bad, racism (so long as it wasn’t called racism) was okay, and programs to support the poor and the elderly, including Social Security were “evil entitlement programs.” For years I bought that tripe, the same tripe I hear today from people very much like me who have for the last four decades have bought the lies of those who despise them and only want their votes to maintain control. I find that interesting because today, some of the same people who have demonized the poor, ethnic minorities, and government social assistance programs have now turned their knives on active duty military members, their families, and veterans. It seems that the programs and benefits that were used to encourage men and women to serve in unpopular wars that only benefited the rich are now considered “expensive entitlement programs” by Donald Trump supporter Senator Jeff Sessions, as well as many other Republican Senators and Represenatives, programs that need to be slashed, even as they dream up more wars.
The problem with being a historian is to actually know something about history. I was doing some work on my Gettysburg and Civil War text this week and read quite a few original source documents of Southerners, including Confederate soldiers who realized during the war that the wealthy slave owners did not give a damn about them; before the war they only wanted their votes, promising that it would keep them above the slaves, during the war it meant that poor Southern whites who had nothing to gain from the slave owners who exempted themselves from serving in the war, fought and died for a Confederacy that only wanted to use them. Eventually I will post some of that material as I update the text, but until then I wanted to let Ulyesses Grant speak for me. Grant wrote after the American Civil War:
“The great bulk of the legal voters of the South were men who owned no slaves; their homes were generally in the hills and poor country; their facilities for educating their children, even up to the point of reading and writing, were very limited; their interest in the contest was very meagre–what there was, if they had been capable of seeing it, was with the North; they too needed emancipation. Under the old regime they were looked down upon by those who controlled all the affairs in the interest of slave-owners, as poor white trash who were allowed the ballot so long as they cast it according to direction.”
I think that Grant’s words are something for all of us to ponder when we go to cast our ballots in November.
Have a great Sunday,