This week, we celebrate what would have been the 84th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This April will mark the 45th anniversary of his untimely death. It is astonishing to realize that Dr. King was only 34 years old when he delivered his watershed I Have A Dream speech and only 39 years old when he was assassinated.
Martin Luther King is an American original whose very public and consistent priorities elude the annual attempts by political parties to claim him as their favorite son. King’s protests and speeches were specifically directed at racial injustice. But his political philosophy was openly founded in American provenance.
Martin Luther King’s biggest speeches included direct quotes from the Declaration of Independence. And when he himself penned an historical missive on civil rights from inside the Birmingham, Alabama city jail, King explained, “I am in Birmingham because injustice is here.”
Below are several quotes from that famous Letter from Birmingham Jail, juxtaposed alongside statements from the Republican and Democratic party platforms. While King’s words are not directly in context with the opposing party positions, I contend that his evangelical politics strongly favored a strong conservative bearing, with an elevated wisdom.
1. On national defense;
Republican Party Platform: Every potential enemy must have no doubt that our capabilities, our commitment, and our will to defeat them are clear, unwavering, and unequivocal. ... The Republican Party is the advocate for a strong national defense as the pathway to peace, economic prosperity, and the protection of those yearning to be free.
Democratic Party Platform: After more than a decade at war, we can focus on nation-building here at home and concentrate our resources and attention abroad on the areas that are the greatest priority moving forward. This means directing more energy toward crucial problems, including longstanding threats like nuclear proliferation and emerging dangers such as cyber attacks, biological weapons, climate change, and transnational crime. And it means a long-overdue focus on the world’s most dynamic regions and rising centers of influence.
Martin Luther King: "We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed."
2. On the Second Amendment;
Republican Party Platform: We uphold the right of individuals to keep and bear arms, a right which antedated the Constitution and was solemnly confirmed by the Second Amendment. We acknowledge, support, and defend the law-abiding citizen’s God-given right of self-defense.