Last week a group of Los Angeles council members hit the headlines when they were secretly recorded discussing redistricting. Some of the language that they used was shocking, and their conversation was littered with casual racism.
The recording is revealing in another way. It draws back the curtain as a group of politicians try to cut deals. In a properly functioning democracy, voters are supposed to choose their politicians. In the recording, we hear politicians scheming to choose their voters.
"So what?" you might say. "This is gerrymandering, and it has happened for decades."
This was not just a conversation about how to achieve favorable redistricting, however. It sounded as if these Los Angeles councilors do not think of voters as individuals, but rather as ethnic groups that almost belonged to politicians.
As they discussed carving up Los Angeles between them, it was all about what is in it for "us" and our ethnic group, versus "them" and their ethnic group.
For most of human history, people were defined in terms of caste, race, class or birth. Then along came the Enlightenment and the American Revolution, and a radically better sort of society emerged.
In America, everyone was supposed to be an individual in possession of inalienable rights. Yet, here we are listening to progressive politicians in 2022 (the recording was actually made in 2021) talking as if none of that any longer applied.
The left’s relentless obsession with race is taking America to a profoundly dangerous place. Far from creating a more equitable society in which everyone has more opportunity, the Progressives will produce an American dystopia in which different groups compete with one another to carve up resources.
Do we really want to live in an America in which politicians, in the manner of mafia bosses, meet to cut backroom deals for "their" group over anyone else? Do we want a system in which mediocre political figures are given a free pass for their failings because they represent "us" against "them?"
There is nothing progressive about Progressives. To progress is to advance. Progressive politicians risk taking America back to a premodern past.
To help fight back, we are launching the Mississippi Leadership Academy. We will take a cohort of bright young Mississippians from different backgrounds each year and introduce them to the ideas that have made America great.
Those that take part will look at some of the public policy challenges we face in our state and hear from some of our state leaders. But participants will also consider how free markets and America’s Founding principles have helped forge the most successful country on earth.
As a conservative think tank, we have had plenty of recent wins helping cut the state income tax and defeating the Biden vaccine mandate. But our most important task is to make certain that the next generation of Mississippians understands and appreciates the principles that have made this country such a success.