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A Path From Protests to the Great Society [OPINION]

During the Great Society speech delivered at Ann Arbor, Michigan on May 22, 1964, Lyndon B. Johnson, said, “The Great Society rests on abundance and liberty for all. It demands an end to poverty and racial injustice, to which we are totally committed in our time.”

Around the country, people have been marching and gathering in protest of racism and police brutality. Untold hours and effort of human endeavor go into these protests, which history may prove in the end will achieve dubious results.

Regardless of how large a protest becomes, there remains in the background a vast majority of people who agree with the ideals of the protesters, but for their own reasons would never join the crowds in the street.

I think most people would agree changes need to be made in our society. Perhaps it’s time for the silent majority to be heard.

We should begin to question in discussions and public forums 56 years of failed public policy and trillions of dollars spent that have resulted in no real gains for the poor.

Residents must outline clear, actionable, attainable, logical steps so those in authority can follow them and be held accountable in their communities.  

If you want police departments to change, state how you want them to change. Take those ideas to your police chiefs and city councils. A few ideas might be as follows:

  1. Carrying a gun is a privilege that must be earned.
  2. An officer must serve three years on the force before the officer is issued a gun, until then officers carry nothing more lethal than Tasers.
  3. Officers can choose not to carry guns.
  4. Officers with more than five complaints against them are not allowed to carry a gun or patrol alone until those complaints have been resolved.
  5. Officers with 10 or more complaints against them are not allow to patrol until those complaints have been resolved.
  6. 40 hours of de-escalation training are required for every officer each year.
  7. Officers are only allowed to use the minimum amount of force to resolve a situation.
  8. Fellow officers are required to intervene in cases of excessive force.
  9. Rubber bullets and tear gas are not allowed for use on civilians.
  10. Officers are issued body cameras at the beginning of each shift, which they cannot turn off.

Other policies which could result in real change for the economically disadvantaged people of every color and creed should likewise become part of the discussion such as school choice, the de-privatization of jails and prisons, tiny home communities for the homeless, universal health care, and free after school enrichment programs.

The silent majority holds a great deal of power in the American political process. It may be time for us to rise from our slumber and flex our muscles for the benefit of those hurting today and generations to come.

Later in his speech, Johnson said, “For better or for worse, your generation has been appointed by history to deal with those problems and to lead America toward a new age. You have the chance never before afforded to any people in any age. You can help build a society where the demands of morality, and the needs of the spirit, can be realized in the life of the Nation.

“So, will you join in the battle to give every citizen the full equality which God enjoins and the law requires, whatever his belief, or race, or the color of his skin?

“Will you join in the battle to give every citizen an escape from the crushing weight of poverty?”