By Michael Adkins
Anything I wish to say, Bob Dylan says better: “The times, they are a-changing.”
Change is inevitable, and it’s occasionally for the worse, but most often for the betterment of man. Major change in the social fabric of mankind occurs very, very slowly. But mankind and his culture continue evolving as they have since the beginning of time itself.
Change is met with resistance because we fear the unknown. The powerful always resist any potential loss of power; change is inevitably a threat to power, in some form or another.
Take representative democracy for example. It took the Great American Experiment to spread the dual concepts of self-governance and all men are created equal. Powerful kings and autocrats fought it. Yet, today, nearly every nation on earth at least gives lip service to the concept of self-governance even if not truly adopting it.
Mankind is better for our Founding Fathers’ dream. But it is crystal clear that not every American, let alone all citizens of the world, accept that dream.
Jim Crow laws were a perfect example that change does not progress linearly, and resistance to change is inevitable. Even with the courts striking down such laws, efforts to renew them continue.
Such resistance to change reveals much about the darker angels of our nature. It often brings out ignorance in otherwise intelligent people. A learned Christian man said to me some 20 years ago that “the problem with the Civil Rights Movement is that it came about too quickly.” Mind you this was more than a century after the emancipation from slavery and the enfranchisement of African-Americans.
The election of Donald Trump to the highest office in the land came about, in large part, because a sizable minority of Americans are resistant to change. They spent eight years attempting to de-legitimatize the presidency of an African-American. Failing that, they succeeded — via the Electoral College — to elect a man who openly opposes the changes his supporters fear.
He spoke of a failing nation that had lost its greatness when in fact it remained the most powerful country on earth, both militarily and economically. He declared our country had lost its standing in the world, when international polling revealed the greatest respect and admiration for the U.S. in decades.
Yet his supporters jumped upon his bandwagon because they fear the future that change presents. Let’s admit the obvious: the powerful always resist change, and no entity on earth has ever been more powerful than the white American male. He sees change as a loss of power.
That is why polling reveals that a majority of white southern males believe they are being threatened. That fear is the common thread behind the anti-immigration movement. It’s behind every attempt at limiting voting.
White America fears the inevitable day that we are a minority in America.
Likewise, the greatest resistance to the women’s movement has always been power. The same holds true today with resistance to the #MeToo Movement.
President Trump’s policies represent resistance to change. They oppose globalization even though that trend has resulted in an enormous reduction in global poverty.
They oppose the Paris Accords and alternative industry even though prior policies have produced a cleaner, more livable environment, in spite of the fact that more new jobs are being created by alternative energy than old energy sources.
The president and his core supporters should realize that resistance to change is futile. They should embrace that which they fear. Nations that embrace change have historically led the world. Therefore, I say “come Congressmen, Senators, all heed the call, for the times they are a-changing.”
Michael Adkins is the former chair of the Hancock County Democratic Party. He lives in Greenfield.