Fear vs Greed

by Eric Anton

It can be fairly stated that the stock market doesn’t accurately measure the health and productivity of companies; rather, it is a graphic representation of the tension between fear and greed. While this might not fully encapsulate what is being measured, stock prices are far more an expression of emotions than of facts. This is a large part of why companies invest so heavily in public relations and media management; campaigns of greenwashing, social-media outreach, and celebrity endorsements help create emotional responses in the public and investors that encourage us to overlook the fact that a company fails to actually produce useful goods, exploits its workers, and props up its supply chains with slave labor or blood minerals. This approach succeeds in part because we as a society still tend to see news media as a source of information that describes reality rather than one with the power to create reality.

Over the past week, this has seldom been more apparent than with the sudden surge in the stock price of the retail company Gamestop. From last week until this writing, the stock price of Gamestop (GME) has skyrocketed from about forty dollars per share to around three hundred and forty dollars per share. Now, this company has not created an impressive new product or somehow resolved a longstanding problem in the last few days, thereby creating an increase in productivity or profitability which could even remotely explain this change; rather, this increase has been driven almost entirely by emotional factors affecting large numbers of smaller traders who have chosen to challenge institutional Wall Street traders. There are now calls from the large traders to have the government regulate “manipulation” from non-institutional sources like Reddit, ignoring, of course, the large hedge funds who so eagerly contribute money to various political campaigns.

So what is the lesson we can take away from this still-unfolding drama? As of this writing, the Treasury Department is “monitoring” the situation, Wall Street is in a greater state of chaos and confusion than usual, Reddit is crowing with victory, and there is even talk of another federal bailout for Wall Street. And yet for all of this, not a single new product has been made, no new productive forces have been created by any of the companies involved in this drama, and all the money “made” in this event has been the result of speculation and emotional manipulation. The regulation of stock prices through the “normal” channels of press releases and public talk from established institutions being overridden by the abnormal channels of viral social-media marketing is not necessarily a good thing, but it does serve as an intriguing example of the disintegration of establishment institutions.

It is not unreasonable to be worried about how this spectacular show of force by non-institutional actors can impact stock prices because of the central place that the stock market takes in our modern economic discourse. While some may call for the use of power to block out non-institutional actors, this will simply solidify the power of the institutional actors and perpetuate the falsity that “legitimate institutional actions” decide what is right and just. Instead, we need to decouple our economy from the false idol of the stock market. Workers and communities need to be able to insulate themselves from this sort of manipulation entirely through owning the land, tools, and resources that they need to live their lives and raise their families. These sorts of stock manipulations have resulted over and over in recessions and contractions of local economies, while the wealthy profit at a distance from the misery they have caused. A just system of investment would focus on increasing worker ownership of productive forces, not on padding the bank accounts of scaremongers and speculators in faraway Wall Street.

What steps can be taken to help us move from our current system of speculation to one of just investment? One step could be to levy taxes and increase regulations on the hedge funds and investment brokers who produce nothing and helped spark such events as the Great Recession, and whose institutional legitimacy allows them to live in decadence while ruining the lives of millions. A less confrontational approach would be for local communities and families to make deliberate choices to detach themselves from the gambling that passes as legitimate behavior on Wall Street. This would involve measures like forming local cooperatives between farmers and shops, allowing worker-owned cooperatives to organize and run businesses on the same legal level as “traditional” corporations, and supporting the growth of small businesses and local production rather than the “Walmartization” of America. This would also mean abandoning the commercial fetishization of “keeping up with the times” by having the latest and greatest products, even if they may have been made with the stolen wealth and blood of far-off people. Most of all, this would involve us all rediscovering the fact that we can work with our neighbors to sustain ourselves. Right now, our standard of “freedom” mainly involves us being free to work long hours for low wages to help someone we’ve never met before buy a fourth house. Perhaps our idea of freedom should instead be geared towards helping our neighbors be free from want, free from the fear of eviction, and free to live lives of dignity.

In Defense of Life

By Peter Sonski

January 22 was already a significant date for members of the pro-life movement, and President Joe Biden this week added to its infamy. The newly-inaugurated Biden, in an unprecedented joint statement with Vice-President Kamala Harris, committed to codifying the United States Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. This bold proclamation, which came on the ruling’s forty-eighth anniversary, is likely to inspire abortion-rights advocates and further demoralize pro-lifers who are frustrated by Biden’s election.

The duo’s statement went on to promise the appointment of judges that will uphold the Roe decision, yet never used the term “abortion.” Instead, it euphemistically pledged that “everyone [will have] access to care – including reproductive health care.” Though merely a reaffirmation of his campaign promises, it also confirmed once again that Biden is beholden more to Democratic Party policies than to the tenets of the Catholic faith he professes. 

The date of January 22 also marks the annual March for Life, which began in 1974 and has become a demonstration that regularly attracts tens of thousands to the nation’s capital in the cold of winter. This year, in the midst of the pandemic, the March’s organizers will replace the midday rally on the National Mall and the two-mile trek up Constitution Avenue to the Supreme Court building with a virtual event. In many ways, the March for Life has galvanized pro-life groups and individuals around the United States, giving rise to a unified and energized movement. The virtual event has the potential to involve still more participants this year in defense of life in the womb.

The American Solidarity Party (ASP) and its rank-and-file members are among the opponents of Biden’s announced abortion policies, and are concerned that more may be on their way. Among its early priorities, the Administration has signaled its intent to reverse the Mexico City Policy through executive order and to push for legislation from the Democratic-controlled Congress to overturn the Hyde Amendment.

Republicans also oppose these proposed actions, along with other measures to advance abortion funding or weaken abortion limitations. In reality, there is a chasm between the abortion policy positions of the two major political parties and, in a historical and unfortunate sense, the abortion issue is commonly reduced to political terms. In the present state of division in America, abortion is easily among the most contentious issues. It is argued in a black-and-white manner, without compromise or middle ground, and without much deference to the human element of child and mother. Party loyalists must defend (or at least acquiesce to) official positions, lest they are marginalized or overrun. There is little place for differing opinions.

Abortion can be defined in scientific terms, too, with an appeal to reason through empirical knowledge. Medical professionals have strong evidence of developing human life in utero, from the instant of fertilization. Ultrasound technology offers a window into the womb and many pregnancy resource centers provide mothers with that view in hopes they will see, along with their hardships, their child within. The scientific argument is valid, but abortion is a topic fraught with emotion. It is not the head but the heart that guides decisions about abortions, which is where the American Solidarity Party has a large role to play.

The ASP addresses abortion not in political or scientific terms, but in social terms. The party looks at the human circumstances that impact abortion decisions and advocates for change in multiple, proactive ways. The ASP platform proclaims an “unwavering commitment to defend life and to promote policies that safeguard the intrinsic dignity of the human person from conception until natural death.” It goes further to call for measures that “specifically include a constitutional amendment clarifying that there is no right to abortion, as well as laws that prohibit or restrict abortion.” The ASP approach is not limited to the legal end of abortion-on-demand; rather, it holds the realistic expectation that legal prohibitions are not enough. Abortion will end when it is undesirable and unnecessary

Though it uncompromisingly seeks to end all legal sanction for abortion, the ASP also acknowledges the need for a social safety net to mitigate decisions which lead to abortion: strong families, living wages and workplace accomodations, access to quality health care and child care, safe neighborhoods, and good education options. The ASP brand of outreach includes public and private programs working in tandem to offer a variety of supports for all struggling families, not least pregnant single women and mothers who are heads of households. Providing basic needs and eliminating fears for personal safety or loss of employment income are the core of an ASP plan for reducing the felt need for recourse to abortion. This approach elevates human dignity and promotes greater appreciation for life in the womb. 

During the past four years, Republicans delivered harsh rhetoric and three Supreme Court appointees, but didn’t overturn Roe v. Wade. The pronouncement by the new Administration serves only to strengthen the Democratic Party’s relationship with the lucrative abortion industry. The ASP isn’t anchored in polemic extremes, though. Neither is it a Pollyanna, assuming that there will be a simple, quick, or complete end to women’s recourse to abortion. Ours is a solid position in defiance of the failed policy of five decades, a holistic response with arms outstretched to those in need who wrestle with the decision to secure an abortion, and unwavering belief that all human life is filled with dignity and unlimited potential.

One Woman’s Thoughts on Roe v. Wade

By Leslie Shaw Klinger

 

On January 22, 1973, in its Roe v. Wade decision, the Supreme Court determined that the right to privacy includes the right to procure an abortion. 

In the forty-eight years since, people of faith have been at the forefront of the fight against this ruling. Before science acknowledged that the fetus is distinct from the mother with its own DNA, people of faith argued for its humanity. They recognized that it was a human person and possessed the inherent dignity that all human beings share as a result of being created in the image and the likeness of God.

In 1973, I was seventeen years old and a junior in a Catholic high school. I remember being torn by the results of the Supreme Court ruling, because, while I understood that women wanted to be able to determine their own destiny, I also knew that babies are precious and beautiful and deserve to live. I understood the argument of the feminists that men could walk away from an unwanted pregnancy while a woman could not and how unfair that seemed. Now, of course, I know how flawed this argument is, for it asserts that women cannot be truly free in this society unless they have the same license as immoral men. At the age of seventeen, however, it seemed only fair that women should be able to rid themselves of the responsibility of pregnancy with the same ease as a man.

My life took several tragic turns over the next ten years. Now, at the age of sixty-five, I accept the consequences of my decisions to end the life of not one but four of my unborn children. Yes, I could argue with you that three of those choices were made under violent duress. I could even tell you that the one I did choose without enduring a black eye or a bloody lip was done because I was an active alcoholic and drug addict and not in my right mind. Regardless of the reasons why, I am now a post-abortive woman who has been granted healing, relief, and her voice through the mercy found in her faith tradition. However, I have no living children. I have no grandchildren. I sit alone in the pew at Mass surrounded by people my age who are holding the results of bringing life to its proper fruition.

How do I feel, therefore, about the statement issued by the Biden–Harris Administration on January 22, 2021?

I feel sad.

I don’t feel this sadness because a man who claims my faith tradition speaks in support of abortion. I am sad because he uses logic from 1973 with a bone thrown in the direction of the real issue: supporting women and families in such a way as to snap in two the pervasive falsehood that a pregnancy unplanned is a pregnancy that derails a woman’s ability to achieve her dreams—in education, in the workplace, and in society. The idea that abortion is a privacy issue fails to dispel the notion that biology is destiny and “those poor females who end up pregnant” might as well throw in the towel in terms of their lives.

The Biden–Harris Administration’s statement proclaims its determination to codify Roe v. Wade. Think about that, people. Think carefully about what this Administration wants to do. In terms of how far the medical field has progressed, the 1973 ruling is as outdated as the Dred Scott decision of 1857. Is privacy between a doctor and patient important? Yes. Is a doctor required to report a patient in danger, a patient under duress, a patient who may be in real trouble? YES.  

Let’s be clear, though, the current emphasis among abortion-rights advocates does not center on privacy, but on choice. Talk to the average person on the street and ask her how she feels about abortion, and she will generally speak about a woman being allowed the choice to end the unborn child’s life. However, ask that same person if there should be restrictions on that choice, and the waters become muddy, as most people are uncomfortable with the idea that a child who is minutes, days, weeks, or even months away from being born should have that life ended simply as a matter of choice.  

People have no problem putting caveats on that choice. They will say, almost to a person, that abortion in the case of rape or incest is okay. They are surprised when they learn that the choice to end a child’s life for those two reasons amounts to a minuscule subset of abortionssome say less than one percentand are dumbfounded when confronted with other possible reasons for that choice to be made.

We now have tests to determine the sex and physical health of the unborn child. If we as a society are okay with a parent killing her child because that child may have special needs, then are we okay with a parent killing her child because it is not the “right” sex? If a genetic test determines that a child may someday develop cancer, will we consider that a sufficient reason to choose abortion? How about if the parents find out there is a possibility the child may be homosexual or of the “wrong” race or color? How far are we willing to go to validate the “private choice” to end a child’s life?

President Biden and Vice-President Harris pledge in their statement to “work to eliminate maternal and infant health disparities, increase access to contraception, and support families economically so that all parents can raise their families with dignity.” They don’t define dignity. I would like them to do so.

I would also like to know what they will do to ensure that every woman or girl who shows up to get an abortion is there of her own free will. I want the fourteen-year-old children being driven to the clinic by their twenty-six-year-old “boyfriends” to be protected. I want the staff at the clinic to be required to act if they see someone there for the second or third time with visible bruises and dead eyes. I want them to be required to report to law enforcement when the woman’s “choice” might be made under duress. I also challenge the Biden–Harris Administration to get specific when they speak of a rededication to ensuring all people have access to health care. Will they require clinics to be held to high standards of cleanliness and proper procedures? Will they be committed to these clinics if access to prenatal care is offered instead of, or along with, abortions? Will this administration look at people having access to food and shelter as an integral part of adequate health care?

The American Solidarity Party does not support abortion; however, we are more than simply another group with an anti-abortion platform.

Within our ranks are people who would like to see abortion eliminated by providing every woman faced with an unwanted pregnancy with the real, practical, and consistent support she needs in order to protect the life of the child she carries in her womb. We want to take the fear of that pregnancy off the table.

If a woman or young girl understands that any reason she might have to end the life of her child has an alternative solution, she then truly has a choice. If she thinks she cannot complete her education, find a place to live, have access to suitable and safe child care, win that trophy, get that job, or otherwise reach her dreams if she gives birth, she is not making a free choice; rather, she is acting out of fear. 

If a woman or young girl knows that she can look her clinician in the eye and say, “I don’t want this to happen, but I need help to escape,” she is much more likely to ask for that help.

Scientific advances have made it possible for children in the womb to receive medical care that would make them much healthier as newborns. Is this type of health care going to be championed by the Biden–Harris Administration?

I will leave the debate over the legal viability of the Roe v. Wade decision to those better qualified, but I will argue that many of the emotional, frothy appeals once made by the feminists of the 1970s should now fall flat. Women are not so weak and helpless as to be denied success simply because they give birth; to imply otherwise is insulting. If we are (as is often screamed from the ranks of pop culture) “warriors” who are able to take on anything and everything life has to offer (or throw at us), then that has to apply to unwanted pregnancy, too. We have to be assured that having a child does not take us out of the game. We can still play because the rules of the game will support us. 

But if the issue is only a matter of privacy and choice? Given the advancements in science, we must be willing to brace ourselves for the future.  

As a society, we had better be okay with some horrible reasons given to end the life of a child.  

And the Biden–Harris Administration had better be okay with it, too.

The Real American Dream

Recently I stumbled across a post on social media that used the table above to assert two propositions:
1) “White privilege” does not exist since whites are near the bottom of this table
2) “The American Dream” is alive and well since the immigrant groups at the top have been able to succeed with the opportunities that the United States gives everyone and that racial justice should not be a concern.

The author of the post implied that hard work can overcome any perceived injustice as indicated by Indian, Chinese, and Japanese immigrants leading ethnicities in earning. Does the fact that a typical Indian American household earns $50,000 more than a typical white household mean that white privilege doesn’t exist and that racial justice should not be a cause for concern?

As an Indian American born in the US to two immigrants, this post made me pause and reflect on my parents’ journey from their motherland. Do their lives provide evidence that anyone, including those at the bottom of the chart, can rise to the top of the economic ladder simply with hard work and perseverance? I want to share my thoughts on this and related issues.

My father, like many older gentlemen, enjoys reflecting on the lean days he spent living in a cramped studio apartment with several other graduate students while completing his degree in civil engineering in Ohio.

“I came here with only one suitcase and a few dollars,” my father told my daughter before she went to her first year of college, while we filled my minivan full of amenities for her dorm room. Most adults have told a youngster how much harder they had it in their youth, but I am certain my parents started their lives in this country with few financial means. I don’t think my mother exaggerates the conditions of their run-down apartments in Chicago and even I remember the scraping and saving we did after we moved to a modest house in a blue-collar Chicago suburb.

There they both worked long hours to ensure my brother and I could go to good universities. My father worked for the city of Chicago for decades. He created strong relationships and built a professional reputation that allowed him to even do some consulting after retirement. My mother worked in an industrial cleaning company where I had the opportunity to make money for several summers in high school and college. They are now retired and live comfortably, having traveled the world and keep active doting on their grandchildren.

Are my parents truly an example of the “American Dream” that hypothesizes that anyone can start with absolutely nothing and become successful and wealthy?

No, because to claim they started with nothing is certainly false. My parents came to this country wealthier than most Americans will ever be, but not in the sense that most mistakenly believe.

They carried with them what people throughout history have treasured more than material wealth: moral capital. Moral capital has been defined in a myriad of ways, but I am using it to mean the relational and spiritual wealth that allows for personal investment in making good choices and acting with justice in life. The kind of richness that comes from strong families, communities, and religious connections (#FamilyFriendsFaith). Just like monetary or resource capital that labor can turn into something great, moral capital can be accrued, invested, and passed on from one person to another through our core relationships.

In India, my parents enjoyed extremely close large families, both immediate and extended. The cultural importance of family connections in India like much of the eastern world was paramount in their lives. Growing up, I learned quickly that there was no word for “cousin” in Gujarati, just like Hebrew or Aramaic. It didn’t matter, you were brothers and sisters, and your aunts and uncles would love you and discipline you as if you were their own.

While struggling to make their own ends meet, my parents sponsored the immigration of my grandmother, who spent the rest of her life with us, and several of my aunts and uncles. From the time I was 6 until I turned 13, there were rarely less than 5 other adults in my house and often several cousins. My older relatives worked blue-collar jobs while my cousins and their children are engineers, doctors, lawyers, business owners, and members of the armed forces.

The moral capital that our family held and shared gave my family members the confidence to buy their own homes and start new businesses, knowing full well they could always fall back on their solid family connections. When we visited our family in India, I got to witness the great love that endured between my parents and their relatives. I also got to witness the deep respect and appreciation my parents had for their hometowns and old neighbors.

Mom and dad had left India with the blessings and love of their friends and neighbors. They honored that support for years after their departure sending money for the upkeep of towns they would never again live in. The pride of an ancestral connection and its continuity was visible on my father’s face the day we spent in his hometown. “Small Town” by John Cougar Mellencamp has universal appeal because it acknowledges deep and real relationships.

Finally, my parents arrived in a new country with powerful ties to their faith and culture, strengthened not only by the specifics of their beliefs but by the universal hope that God’s blessings would get them through many lean and difficult times. Throughout my childhood, I attended weddings and garbas (dance festivals) with hundreds of other Indian families. These cultural events were highlights for the Indian community in the Chicagoland area and continue to be. They are a constant reminder that no matter how far you have moved you can still be close to home. The humility cultivated by understanding you aren’t the center of the universe and that you are a piece of a larger community brings great moral capital.

I grew up thinking hard work alone had yielded the material success that allowed me to have a peaceful family existence. I now realize the richness of valuing family, friends, and faith over selfish, short term desires were passed on to me from generations of ancestors.

Sacrifice and hard work come much easier when our primal organizations are rightly ordered. We live in a false meritocracy thinking we can accomplish anything on our own. It may have taken me more than forty years, but I now realize that I would be nothing without the greatest man and woman in my world, my parents.

The real American dream is having the freedom to do what is right and time-honored, not in procuring vast treasures that you can’t take with you. Financial security has value only in the context of a rich family life, strong ties to community, and the realization that God has a greater good we are called to strive towards. The moral capital that flows from this framework grows with interest like money. The more you have, the more you can invest and reap the gains from. The less you have, the less you can leverage in school, the workplace, or your communal relationships.

I say the “Real American Dream” is building a holistic better life for your children, giving them the freedom to increase their moral capital to allow them to not only have economic security, but also relational security. Due to the lessons and skills my parents imparted, I can safely say that I am 50 levels removed from becoming homeless. In the case of complete financial ruin, between my family, neighbors, and friends, I would have many places to go on a moment’s notice. Those people know they could always come to me as well.

When you have the moral capital to build, maintain, and cultivate new relationships, working hard to build income and wealth become drastically easier. The continual decay that two liberal corporate parties force upon those on the bottom of the economic ladder keep them from building the moral capital that was stolen from them repeatedly in the past. Americans don’t understand their history well enough. Most understand the horrors of slavery, but few can explain what Jim Crow laws were. Even fewer know what the term red-lining means. There are many other examples of how blacks were stripped of their moral capital or the ability to rebuild what was taken. I could write other articles on how indigenous peoples have suffered the loss of their moral capital or more recently Latin American immigrants.

The American Solidarity Party stands for families, friends, and faith, the cornerstones of moral capital creation. For too long, the duopoly has dangled individualism and consumerism before us to keep us voting in their favor. The results have been disastrous. It doesn’t matter which party is in control. We get the same result after four to eight years: more atomization, less moral capital, and a switch to the other party expecting something different. We need a shift in politics that considers true freedom as being afforded the opportunity to do not just what we want to do without constraint, but to do what we ought to do, for the sake of healthier families, neighborhoods, and communities, of which our United States of America are composed/constituted.

My parents brought the American Dream with them when they came from India because human beings around the world yearn for the moral capital that comes from strong relationships and close family ties. The last two presidents spoke about “Hope and Change” and “Making America Great Again” but instead they continued on the path of eroding moral capital. We need to reject atomization and embrace an understanding that what makes life great is a commitment to family, friends, and faith and the empowerment they provide.

Why Education Funding Is a Terrible Reason to Legalize Sports Betting

 “It’s for the Kids!”

By: Meredith Burnett

 

With our commitment to strengthening the family and to protecting its more vulnerable members, we might wonder how members of the American Solidarity Party in Maryland ought to approach our upcoming referendum, which will determine the legal status of sports betting in our state. What might seem like a clear choice for those whose goal is to “create a more pro-family culture” becomes murkier when we consider that those proposing a change to current legislation are suggesting that tax revenues would be used for education. Given the current health crisis, and the increased reliance on technology to bridge the gap between student and instructor, additional funds certainly would be beneficial at this juncture. That said, the “it’s for the kids” argument in favor of legalizing sports betting may merely be a case of “muddying the waters to make them look deep,” as the saying goes.

 

The principle of never doing evil so that good may come of it is central to Christian ethics, finding its basis in St. Paul’s letter to the Romans (Romans 3:8). This principle can and should be extended to include never encouraging evil that good may come. When we consider that gambling becomes one of those monetized vices that generates the bulk of its income (by some estimates well over fifty percent) from the small fraction (two to three percent) of those who become addicted to it, we should not be surprised to learn that advertising for gambling is often specifically designed to target and create gambling addicts. Encouraging “problem gambling” and addiction threatens families and children by encouraging problem gamblers to risk the family homes of some of the very children that this legislation is supposed to be “helping.” Most of the excess revenue that the educational system would gain by the legalization of sports gambling would be acquired by taking advantage of the vulnerable—both the problem gamblers themselves and their families. “Wagering is a tax on stupidity,” my grandfather used to say. Whether or not that is always the case, it is always true that revenue from betting directly impoverishes those who struggle to make good decisions with their money and those in their care.

 

When I was a child, my mother used to bemoan the fact that the clerk at the corner store frequently asked his middle-aged male customers if they wanted a lottery ticket. “Why doesn’t he ask them if their wives need some milk or some eggs back at home?” she would fume, watching the customers ahead of her throw their money away. Indeed, what a more wholesome way for a sales clerk to generate a little extra income! No doubt, the schools could benefit from additional funding, especially over the next few years. But the legalization of sports betting is not a child-friendly way to achieve this end!

 

Maryland voters have some important decisions to make in the next week. It is tempting to “think big” and just focus on the presidential race and our congressional candidates. However, it is arguably with attention to state policy that we have the greatest ability to shape our lives and that of those around us. And so, we must, without hesitation, vote “No” to the legalization of sports betting in our beloved state.

The Impact of COVID on Women

The Impact of COVID-19 on Women: The American Solidarity Party Responds
By Nathan Warf

Nathan Warf is a proud member of the American Solidarity Party. He serves as an Assistant Professor of Law & Politics at Freed–Hardeman University in Henderson, Tennessee.

COVID-19 has impacted everyone, and researchers will spend a long time studying the different effects by age, sex, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Here, I wish to examine the consequences for women specifically and how the American Solidarity Party platform speaks to those issues.

As Talha Burki explains in The Lancet, COVID-19 might not discriminate by sex in who it infects, but studies confirm disparate impacts on men and women. While men are at a disadvantage when it comes to serious health consequences (and even death) due to a variety of biological and social factors, women face other, sometimes subtler, difficulties that are worth exploring.

For one, women are overrepresented in many of the occupations deemed essential during the shutdown. They hold a majority of the jobs in social work, health care, and critical retail (e.g., grocery stores, fast food). Their service in this capacity means greater risk of exposure to the coronavirus. To make matters worse, women are more likely to be affected by shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), and they often must deal with PPE not designed with their needs in mind. Unisex or one-size-fits-all PPE tends to cater to the average male, which can mean uncomfortable and less effective gear for many women. While women are more likely to hold essential jobs, ironically they are also more likely to suffer job losses than men as a result of the pandemic. This is due, in part, to the fact that more women held social-sector jobs—retail, tourism, hospitality—that were adversely impacted by mitigation efforts. The nature of such jobs requires in-person interactions; working from home simply isn’t possible.

After the initial shutdown, people throughout the country began raising questions about reopening, particularly with regard to schools. Discussion focused not only on how to reopen schools, but whether they should reopen at all. This issue disproportionately affects women, and not just because they comprise roughly seventy-five percent of all K–12 teachers. The White House has addressed many of the advantages of reopening for students. Remote learning is not possible for many students who lack reliable access to broadband internet. In-person learning is likely more effective for most students. Moreover, schools play a vital role in addressing food insecurity and identifying child abuse. Beyond the benefits for students, the White House also focuses on the economic impact of reopening schools. Even before the pandemic, women were far more likely than men to leave the workforce to take on unpaid care responsibilities for children, the elderly, and sick family members. Melinda Gates explains that “a two-hour increase in women’s unpaid care work is correlated with a ten-percentage-point decrease in women’s labor-force participation.” The pandemic has also exacerbated existing imbalances in unpaid work within the home. As schools have closed, women have disproportionately borne the effects.

What does the American Solidarity Party have to contribute to this discussion?

The American Solidarity Party platform states that the party “is founded on an unwavering commitment to defend life and to promote policies that safeguard the intrinsic dignity of the human person.” Part of safeguarding human dignity is recognizing that men and women often have differing needs and make different contributions to society. This is arguably more important during the pandemic than at any other time.

The party’s platform addresses many of the issues raised above. First of all, the ASP seeks to “guarantee universal healthcare.” The pandemic has demonstrated the frailty of our current system of employer-based health coverage. People, especially women, are losing their jobs, and therefore their insurance, during a time when access to healthcare is so desperately needed. Further, we believe healthcare should include full coverage of pregnancy, childbirth, and neonatal care. Women obviously play a unique role in childbearing, yet poor access to healthcare leads to adverse health outcomes for women and children.

Furthermore, the party acknowledges the invaluable service provided by individuals who forego paid employment in order to care for children, the elderly, and disabled family members. We seek to make such care easier by offering tax credits, subsidizing child care, providing access to affordable healthcare, and promoting workplace accommodations that support families, such as job sharing. Accommodations would include things like expanding “paid parental leave, flexible scheduling, and affordable child care.” Every other country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) offers paid leave for mothers, and the vast majority offer paid leave for fathers. Numerous studies confirm that generous paid parental leave programs provide health benefits for mothers and children in both the short and long-term. Paid time off and flexible scheduling allow for ongoing support of children and other family members in need.

Not only do such policies promote healthy families, they also make it much easier for women to remain in the workforce. Many live in “child-care deserts,” or areas where the demand for care exceeds capacity, a fact only intensified by the pandemic. Care options that are available tend to be expensive. The current child-care system makes it difficult to balance the desire to form stable families with the opportunity to enjoy the dignity of work. The ASP’s platform makes plain the party’s commitment to strong families and the support of women.

Finally, the ASP is aware that “[e]ducation is vital to the formation of the human person and the good of society.” We promote an educational system where parents have the ability to choose what is best for their children, whether that be education in the home, in a public school, or in a private school. Education demands greater investment, both to support “economically disadvantaged students” and to make “teaching a well-paying occupation.” In the midst of the pandemic, the need for this commitment is undeniable. We are making extraordinary demands of teachers, at first by forcing abrupt shifts to online or hybrid teaching and now by asking many to return to school despite poorly-understood risks to their personal health.

The ASP is attractive to many, including myself, because of its adherence to the consistent life ethic. We promote human dignity—for men and women—all the way from conception until natural death. This is not mere lip-service but is deeply embedded in the policies we pursue. The pandemic is reminding us of our need for one another, and the American Solidarity Party has a distinctive vision for the path forward.

  1.  For an illuminating examination of the challenges women face in a world largely designed by and for men, see Caroline Criado Perez, Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men. (New York: Abrams, 2019).
  2. See, e.g., “Policy Brief: The Impact of COVID-19 on Women,” The United Nations. 9 April 2020. Accessed 22 August 2020. https://www.unwomen.org/-/media/headquarters/attachments/sections/library/ publications/2020/policy-brief-the-impact-of-covid-19-on-women-en.pdf?la=en&vs=1406

Lessons from Coronavirus

By Skylar Covich & Bonnie Kallis

At no time in recent history has the need for the American people to join in solidarity for the common good been as clear as it is during our current pandemic. We have, as a people, been learning to do things differently—students are distance-learning, churches are streaming services, and families are staying connected virtually. While Americans have demonstrated remarkable resilience and adaptability, the current crisis illustrates the brokenness of our political system. Long before pandemics and protests, the American Solidarity Party has recognized the root of this brokenness as a duopoly that is unable to address the most basic needs of its citizens because the two parties are so locked in conflict. 

At the same time, it can be difficult to integrate upholding a consistent life ethic, the principle of subsidiarity, and economic justice, each of which should factor in the decisions of government (at all levels), organizations, and individuals. Most ASP members have been supportive of at least some shutdown orders, but personal freedoms, religious liberties, and economic protections (particularly for small businesses) still matter. The writers and editors at the ASP hope to create a series of blog posts on such themes and about the important questions that result. One of the first posts in that series will discuss the work of some organizations that include ASP members and sympathizers, such as Breaking Ground and the AND Campaign. This post, however, focuses on basic ASP principles as they relate to the pandemic.

Social Justice and Consistent Life Ethic

The ASP “is founded on an unwavering commitment to defend life and to promote policies that safeguard the intrinsic dignity of the human person from conception until natural death.”

One of the most basic needs for every citizen is access to quality, affordable health care. If it wasn’t obvious before, the pandemic has made it abundantly clear that our current model of employer-based health care is not viable. Along with the rising unemployment rate (current estimates are that close to 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment between March 15th and May 15th) comes a rising number of uninsured people. The majority of the uninsured live in poverty or work in the service industry. While testing and related doctor’s office expenses for the novel coronavirus is covered under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, there is no such guarantee when it comes to covering treatment. Some insurers have waived copays and deductibles for hospitalizations related to COVID-19, while others haven’t. However, the cost for treatment can exceed $20,000 for those with health insurance, with charges up to twice as high for the uninsured. Of course, in some states, uninsured individuals may qualify for Medicaid, and the recently unemployed may qualify for COBRA benefits or insurance under the Affordable Care Act—if they can afford it (an unlikely prospect if you’ve been laid off due to, say, a pandemic). 

As a popular adage states, “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.” In the current crisis, elderly people and minorities suffer disproportionately. While it is to be expected that the elderly would be more susceptible due to underlying conditions, we need to ask why African-Americans are experiencing the coronavirus in staggering numbers. Take Illinois, for example. In Chicago, where they make up roughly thirty percent of the population, African-Americans have suffered seventy percent of COVID-19-related deaths. Seventy percent—let that sink in. And this is not limited to Illinois; similar imbalances exist in Michigan, Wisconsin, and North Carolina, to name but a few. Clearly, we are failing miserably when it comes to caring for our vulnerable populations.

Economic Justice and Subsidiarity

The ASP “advocate[s] for an economic system which focuses on creating a society of wide-spread ownership (sometimes referred to as ‘distributism’) rather than having the effect of degrading the human person as a cog in the machine.”

It has been sadly interesting to see the lack of economic justice in our country illustrated in the effects of the coronavirus, despite the brief hope provided by the bipartisan decision to send most Americans a one-time payment. There is a remarkable irony in the fact that some of the lowest-paid members of society have become the most essential. Grocery store clerks, sanitation workers, delivery people, meat packers, and warehouse workers have all been vital in allowing us to safely shelter in place while they risked their lives to provide essential goods. Many, if not most, of these workers could not get tested for the virus, while celebrities had ample access to testing. While America’s low-paid essential workers were risking their health to provide necessary goods and services and watching the value of their pensions and retirement accounts plummet, some lawmakers with inside information were busy trading stocks in anticipation of an economic downturn. While suburban schools quickly worked to provide online classes for their students, many urban districts struggled with the reality that their students lacked access to the Internet. Over and over again, we witnessed the stark reality of the difference between the haves and the have-nots. 

Subsidiarity

Subsidiarity “is the coordination of society’s activities in a way that supports the internal life of the local communities.” 

The principle of subsidiarity holds that decision-making should always be left to the lowest competent level of government. The need for a system of subsidiarity is evidenced by the divide between rural and urban communities during the pandemic. As states begin to reopen, the divisions in our country are becoming even more apparent. Rural communities, which have so far emerged from the pandemic relatively unscathed in regard to public health, are nonetheless suffering economically. Unlike urban communities, which can presumably bounce back financially, the coronavirus has dealt an economic death blow to many struggling rural communities. This can be attributed, in part, to federal policies which in many ways overemphasize urban economies at the expense of their rural counterparts. Urban communities, some of which have been devastated medically, have been understandably hesitant to open up their economies. Under subsidiarity, urban communities would be charged with making decisions that are in the best interests of their citizens, while rural communities would do the same.

In the coming weeks, we hope to present posts examining some of the following questions:

  • Regarding the principle of subsidiarity, when do orders intended to save people’s lives result in unintended consequences which do more harm than good? In particular, how do we resolve tensions between people who would prefer safety and people who would prefer freedom? Should the federal government, states, or counties primarily set rules for pandemic response? To what extent is it ethical to disobey orders which an individual believes are poorly thought out, or have remained in effect too long?
  • Which policies will best protect unemployed people and small businesses (including small farmers)?
  • Is telecommuting a way to achieve better work-life balance, improve family life, and promote environmental stewardship? Can we achieve the social benefits of telecommuting without exacerbating inequality between those who can do so and those whose jobs truly need to be done in person, especially when working in packed conditions leads to a higher risk of becoming infected with the coronavirus?
  • How does the pandemic change the conversation around health care reform? 
  • Racial inequalities in economics, health care, and treatment by authorities have been exacerbated by the pandemic. One lesson we have learned is how different communities tend to focus on opposition to very different expressions of state power. How can we incorporate racial equality and racial justice into policies that address the pandemic and its effects?
  • Electoral reform seems like a tangential issue to many at the moment. But as we continue to see a possible political realignment for a variety of reasons, there is an increasing need to reform the ballot-access process, establish new systems for determining election winners (such as ranked-choice voting), prohibit gerrymandering, and make voting as easy as possible. How can we work to make this happen?
  • Abortion politics played into the battles over the shutdowns, as there were efforts in several states to keep abortion clinics open. How can the pro-life movement respond productively during a crisis to prevent abortion?

This is by no means a complete list of what we hope to cover, but we expect that these questions will move us toward a distinctive vision for the future. The underlying philosophy of the American Solidarity Party is rooted in the firm belief that we are, indeed, our brother’s keepers. As a country, we have to be better. The fact is that we are all in this together—COVID-19 or not. We have to look out for one another. We all depend on each other for our physical, spiritual, and economic health. It is time for us to move forward as a nation in solidarity. It is time for the ASP.

What Christian Democracy Means To Me

By Amar Patel

“The American Solidarity Party (ASP) is a true, organically-grown grassroots party that was formed by people looking for a third way in the polarized and interest-group-driven landscape of American politics, modeled on Christian Democratic parties throughout the world, shaped by unique aspects of American culture and law.”

These words appear on the “About Us” page of our website. Most Americans probably don’t know about Christian democratic parties around the world, so we often hear the criticism that we shouldn’t use the phrase “Christian” to describe a non-sectarian political party because it will drive away people on both sides of the issue. Non-Christians might feel unwelcome, and Christians may not want others to think that they are trying to create a theocracy. The general response from our party has been that there is a historical richness in the principles of personalism, solidarity, subsidiarity, and sphere sovereignty that have guided Christian democratic parties around the world. The United States has never enjoyed a coherent political force that embodies all of those principles together, so our association serves to provide that option and is edifying at the same time.

For those who want a more academic understanding of Christian democracy, I point you to “The Birth of An American Christian Democratic Party” by Hunter Baker and the ASP’s own statement on Christian democracy. Both offer perspective, background information, and starting points for those trying to understand the American Solidarity Party’s views. I want to offer a different perspective altogether.

The killing of George Floyd and the following nationwide unrest forced me to consider our path forward and to reconsider what Christian democracy means to me. If someone asked me publicly about Christian democracy, I would still start with the concepts of personalism, solidarity, subsidiarity, and sphere sovereignty, but now I would add a personal reflection to the mix. Christianity is necessarily linked to the cross: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). We cannot have Christian democracy without the understanding that sacrifice and suffering are critical to the process.

I have to give credit to ASP member Albert Thompson for inspiring this personal revelation by sharing a video of a message he delivered to a conference of Anglican bishops on the history of racism in the United States. In this speech, he refers to a group of Anglican bishops who had not only supported the Confederacy but also attempted to defend slavery by using Scripture and religious doctrine. After the war, these bishops were simply allowed back into the fold without any repentance or repudiation of their past actions. In other words, they accepted a false reconciliation for political reasons instead of real reconciliation to God.

At this point, non-Christians, agnostics, and atheists may object to the concept of reconciliation as a religious principle, but I don’t bring it up to proselytize. I put it before you because all people understand the concept of “no pain, no gain,” and that is what we are talking about in today’s world. The sentiment that “all lives matter” rings hollow when we look at the current treatment of black communities in America. In truth, we haven’t yet earned the right to use that phrase, which assumes a false reconciliation and a level of social equality that was never truly granted. As such, Christian democracy with its insistence on solidarity calls us to carry the cross of our black neighbors. What that looks like differs greatly from person to person due to age, profession, wealth, and so on, but it certainly isn’t a quick fix and requires long-term changes in behavior.

Many in the pro-life movement succumb to false reconciliation models. Hoping the appointments of pro-life judges and platitudes in speeches will somehow overcome the horrific legacy of abortion is akin to thinking we can simply declare that the country is now color-blind because Barack Obama was elected president. An abusive husband might convince his battered wife not to call the police by being excessively tender for a moment, but his fleeting kindness doesn’t reconcile their relationship. I believe abortion is not the illness; it is a symptom of the intersection of all of the deadly sins. Reconciliation from those sins won’t come with fancy words and creative marketing. It will cost time, money, and all kinds of gifts—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual—to make things right.

The American Solidarity Party’s call for a distributist economy must also be taken in this context. The current libertine notions of “free markets” curing all ills won’t be overcome with articles and memes. Deeper conversations, risk-taking in local economies, and policy support funded by appropriate taxation on wealth must take place over sustained periods. The constant attempts by those in power to regain control will always be there, and without vigilance, monied interests will win out again. We can see a clear effect of systemic racism in the aftermath of every major national crisis. The bursting of stock market bubbles, Hurricane Katrina, COVID-19, and the like all show the wealthy rebounding more quickly and then gaining disproportionately to the poor. This disparity is especially true among black Americans. Imagine the anger and resentment that would exist if people actually understood the rigged economic system.

In conclusion, I will address those who might say, “You don’t have to be Christian to understand the need for work and sacrifice regarding these issues.” Amen to that; however, not acknowledging that the word “cross” derives from “crux,” which also means “the root,” limits the progress of the principles we want to advance. Our both/and approach to solving political problems means standing for justice and committing to the sacrifice required to attain it. To me, Jesus modeled this perfectly in carrying the cross and dying on it. We must suffer to advance the ideals of Christian democracy. Other political parties make no attempt at creating a cohesive set of values. Republicans are liberal on the economy, Democrats are liberal on morality, and Libertarians sell out completely on any responsibility to the common good. G. K. Chesterton wrote, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.” Let us hope they don’t say this about Christian democracy in America two hundred years from now.

Police Brutality and Qualified Immunity

by Grace Garrett

In recent weeks, Americans have collectively grappled with the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and other victims of police violence. We have come to expect that there will be no justice for victims of police violence, and we join with the platform of the American Solidarity Party in our demands that “law enforcement officers should be . . . held to the highest standards of professionalism . . . [and] strict accountability for the use of lethal force.” While the failure of the criminal justice system to hold police officers accountable is the subject for another essay, the failure of civil courts to hold police officers accountable by providing a modicum of relief in these cases is baffling. Many are rightly asking, “Why can’t you successfully sue a police officer who attacks you or a family member?” The answer is “qualified immunity.”

Qualified immunity is a legal principle that shields government officials, including police officers, from civil liability for actions taken in the performance of their job, as long as those actions do not knowingly violate anyone’s legal rights. Of course, the Fourth Amendment (among other laws) very clearly establishes one’s right not to be brutalized by the police. So, what gives? To understand this issue, we need to look a little deeper into the history of the Supreme Court’s treatment of qualified immunity.

The current legal test for whether a government agent is entitled to the protection of qualified immunity was introduced in Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800 (1982). As with so many unpleasant incidents in modern American history, this one was Richard Nixon’s fault. A contractor named A. Ernest Fitzgerald sued Nixon and several of his aides for whistleblower retaliation; the Court decided that, while Nixon himself had “absolute immunity” from civil liability for his actions as president, his aides were entitled to “qualified immunity.” The Court viewed this qualified immunity as essential to the government’s ability to function without its officials being paralyzed by the fear of civil lawsuits, and provided a two-pronged test for when qualified immunity would apply, stating, “government officials performing discretionary functions generally are shielded from liability for civil damages insofar as their conduct does not violate ‘clearly established’ statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.” Hold onto the phrases “clearly established” and “reasonable person,” as they are critical to understanding why this legal concept is currently operating against the interests of justice.

The definition of a “clearly established” right for the purposes of qualified immunity has been discussed at great length over a number of cases since the test was established in Harlow v. Fitzgerald, but for this discussion, we’ll zero in on Kelsay v. Ernst, 933 F.3d 975 (8th Cir. 2019). Melanie Kelsay, her children, and her friend Patrick Caslin were at a public pool. While they were goofing around, Mr. Caslin tried to throw Ms. Kelsay into the pool. Some bystanders interpreted this as assault and called the police, who arrested Mr. Caslin. Ms. Kelsay spoke to the responding officers in an attempt to prevent her friend’s arrest and then started walking toward a stranger who was speaking with one of her children. It is noteworthy that Ms. Kelsay is described in court documents as being five feet tall and 130 pounds. Deputy Matt Ernst then performed a “takedown maneuver” on Ms. Kelsay which broke her collarbone and rendered her briefly unconscious. While the dissent in this case argued that case law has established that the use of force against a nonviolent misdemeanant simply for disrespect is a violation of the Fourth Amendment, the majority opinion held that there was no precise law or a precedent which handled a fact set close enough to Ms. Kelsay’s case to “clearly establish” for a reasonable officer that it was illegal to body slam Ms. Kelsay under these circumstances.

The second part of the test for establishing qualified immunity has to do with the “reasonable person,” or, in the case of police brutality, “the reasonable police officer,” thanks to the infuriating case of Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989). Dethorne Graham was a diabetic and needed some orange juice to stabilize his blood sugar. He ran into a corner store, but when he saw the length of the line he rushed out of the store. A police officer, M. S. Connor, witnessed Mr. Graham running out of the store and assumed that he had robbed the store. Officer Connor proceeded to try to apprehend Mr. Graham. Mr. Graham’s blood sugar crisis had intensified at this point, and he began running around the officer’s vehicle and then briefly lost consciousness. Officer Connor and other officers who had arrived for backup interpreted this behavior as intoxication and resistance, and slammed Mr. Graham against the police car, handling him in such a way that Mr. Graham left the encounter with an injured shoulder, a broken foot, cuts and bruises all over his body, and persistent tinnitus. In their determination of whether the officers who attacked Mr. Graham were entitled to qualified immunity, the Supreme Court decided that police officers should not be held to the same standard as general members of the community; instead, they held that “the ‘reasonableness’ of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, and its calculus must embody an allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second decisions about the amount of force necessary in a particular situation.” So, police officers are given leeway in light of the chaos of a given situation. This standard has been applied in many police shootings where the officers have interpreted cell phones, candy bars, and hair combs as lethal weapons and harmed those they encounter on the job.

The path of the doctrine of qualified immunity from a practical necessity for government work to a tool of oppression is a long one, and we could discuss dozens of other seminal cases in a comprehensive treatment of the subject. Hopefully, this article provides a jumping-off point to understand the concept. We have yet to see lawsuits from the families of the most recent victims of police violence, but qualified immunity is likely to play a part in any civil suits they file against the officers responsible. As we watch for updates, let us continue to echo the words of the prophet Amos in our prayers, and ask that God will lead our country to “let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream!”

The False Meritocracy

By Amar Patel

My parents emigrated from India to the United States in the late 1960s, and I grew up on a street with only white neighbors. I remember avoiding certain blocks because kids would throw rocks at me as I rode by. I would take a trip to the convenience store and turn around because other roughnecks would be outside. I was routinely taunted in the playground and assaulted a few times. I can still remember my sorrow and seething hatred for my persecutors. While I had the good fortune of having a supportive, close-knit, multi-generational family, my parents didn’t know about my plight; I felt too ashamed to share my experiences. The feeling of being an outsider and not belonging did not sit well with me. The principle of solidarity that I now cherish as a member of the American Solidarity Party was as foreign to me as my parents were to the soil they had moved to.

Years later, as an adult, I learned that my father had faced similar racism from his college classmates during graduate school shortly after arriving in the United States. I asked him how he overcame it. His answer was that he knew he had to work harder than everyone else to show that he belonged. This was the one value that my parents instilled in me more than any other: no one can take your work ethic away from you. So, years later, having worked hard, gone to college, gotten a good job, married a supportive wife, and had two healthy children, I had a strong sense that I had earned my place in the world. It was only when my children were older that I had to reassess my world view. One of my teenage son’s teammates bullied him about being a terrorist as their school bus drove by a mosque (we are Roman Catholic). When he told us about this, a latent, decades-old rage emerged and I wanted justice for my child’s abuse. Thankfully, the coach and the bully’s mother intervened and settled the issue, but my heart ached for my son.

In today’s public discourse, we often hear the terms “institutional racism” and “white privilege.” While I am sure society has improved overall in the course of debating these concepts, I know that the arguments over them can fall on deaf ears. My contribution may also suffer the same fate, but as an alternative take on racial harmony, I hope it may spark a new conversation and add to our nation’s ongoing healing.

As I reflected on the George Floyd situation, the subsequent nationwide violence, and the social-media reaction to all of it, my thoughts went back to my father’s journey. How did he overcome racism and othering? Was it really just hard work? What I realized was that he had something that black children often don’t get: an intact family. For many African-American children, there is no father at home (rather than in jail on some petty charge). My grandfather sacrificed all that he had saved and all that he would earn so my father could follow his dream and start a new life. In addition, for twenty years, my parents had the love and support of a safe community—a community that not only believed they could succeed but also rallied together to make sure that they would. They came from small, secluded farming villages in India, and they took the hopes and dreams of extended families and supportive neighbors with them.

This year, I went through a seminar on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). In summary, trauma and abuse when inflicted on a child can have long-term physiological and psychological effects similar to what is seen among soldiers who have been in war. Children raised in high-conflict situations can literally exhibit the signs of PTSD. But there’s a difference: a soldier’s tour of duty will end, while a poor child has no obvious means of escape from the squalor and stress of her daily life. Black children disproportionately grow up in a “fight or flight” environment. Too often they have poorly funded schools, inferior health care, inadequate diets, and dangerous living conditions. On top of these—and perhaps worst of all—they have the outrageous expectation placed upon them that they should catch up on their own to people who started miles ahead in the race.

For the very, very few readers who started with nothing, survived years of trauma and abuse, achieved an education or started a business, and are now thriving adults, I say, “God bless you; well done.” This article addresses the millions who casually lambaste the looters, pointing out the fault in their plan of action, and asking, “How does looting bring George Floyd justice?” It doesn’t, but I can tell you I would have at least verbally assaulted the young man who bullied my son over the singular instance of racism he faced. I can’t begin to comprehend how years of anger and resentment may have affected the psyche of the recent looters and vandals. This does not exonerate them from culpability, but lack of sympathy for their raw emotion implies a corresponding lack of consideration of their daily plight, which is a plight I am fortunate to have avoided.

While I faced racism and hatred as a child, I had loving parents and an extended family living with me. I had good schools with great teachers who never expected anything but the best from me. I had amazing friends whose parents treated me like a son despite my different ethnicity. In college, I found great support in a faith community that modeled respect for all members, regardless of background. The education my parents paid for opened the door to a great job where others had prepared a work environment that has allowed me to thrive and achieve more than I could have done on my own.

“In God We Trust” has been the motto of this country only since 1956. What if our motto was, “There, but for the grace of God, go I”? I am forty-six years old—the same age as George Floyd. What if George had been born into my life and I into his? Individualism feeds a false sense of meritocracy, but no one can make it on her own; everyone needs support from others. We can’t answer questions about how much support is right, when it should end, who should pay for it, and so forth until we accept that we are not isolated atoms moving solely of our own accord. We can’t heal as a society until we are truly thankful for our circumstances and reciprocally generous with our surpluses.

The only time I ever got pulled over for speeding was by one of my former neighbors who had grown up to become a police officer. He recognized me when reading my name off of my driver’s license. We laughed and shared stories about our families and our lives since high school. I don’t expect to have such a pleasant encounter the next time I get pulled over, but I can’t fathom the crushing weight of fear a young black man must feel the first time—or every time—he is pulled over. How can our experiences be so different in the same country? This is the kind of question I have come to ask through my time in the American Solidarity Party. If we are not all in this together, then we will perpetually remain apart.

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