By Robert E. Macdonald
Mayor of Lewiston
“Well they passed a law in ’64 to give those who ain’t got a little more.” Thus sang Bruce Hornsby in his song “The Way It Is.”
The song hailed President Lyndon Johnson’s signing on July 2, 1964 of The Civil Rights Act of 1964. What was hailed as a triumph has turned out to be a disaster.
There is nothing wrong with helping the poor. In fact, most religions expect their faithful to help those in need. However, when need turns into enabling, major problems are created that have an adverse effect on society.
What was intended to help needy people break the cycle of poverty served only to strengthen that cycle and open a deep abyss that made escape virtually impossible. But does this surprise anyone? When the federal government comes to say they are here to help you—you got real problems.
Of course, they come with good intentions. Unfortunately, intentions do not necessarily equate to reality. If the Presidential election brought one thing to the forefront, it was our national leaders, policy wonks and the press have no idea of the problems faced by everyday working Americans. Their stunned astonishment over the depths of their detachment from average Americans was like a sledgehammer blow to their heads.
Johnson’s Civil Right Act has created an aggressive Stage 3 societal cancer—a cancer that is proceeding steadily towards Stage 4. The growing tumor consists of a variety of fatal social maladies collectively referred to as community organizations.
When I first arrived in Lewiston in 1977, 13 years after the Civil Rights legislation was enacted, I was assigned to patrol the Little Canada district of Lewiston. During the heydays of the mill, this section had served as the site of mill worker housing (key word: “worker”). But in 1977 the area was changing.
The stable, older French population was being pushed out. Today, throughout our country, what once were neighborhoods populated by middle-class, white- and blue-collar workers have been replaced and taken over by educated young professionals sending real estate prices north.
But 39 years ago was a much different time. The hard-working mill workers, many of them who had never known any other neighborhood—a neighborhood filled with many happy unforgettable memories—were now being forced out, not because of outrageous rents, but because of drugs and crime brought to the neighborhood by a new population that had no pride. They began changing a clean, robust neighborhood into a dump.
Lewiston’s leaders and their liberal allies failed to show a scintilla of leadership and sat by silently, allowing our new neighbors to destroy the neighborhood. According to these leaders, the new residents were poor and societally stigmatized because of the choices they made.
The federal money kept rolling into our cash-strapped city. When the money comes rolling in, it causes those in charge to overlook things—don’t kill the Golden Goose. They failed to address these problems, fearing the federal spigot might be turned off. This led to the resurrection of an old extinct cottage industry: the modern-day carpetbagger.
Federal money, with its rules and regulations, along with elected officials partnering with unelected community organizers, are responsible for bringing Lewiston to our current state.
This year we have a chance for radical change in favor of those who pay taxes, not those who take taxes. You, Dear Reader, are the key. Pay attention to what’s going on. Make sure your elected officials are representing your interests, not those of unelected community organizers.
You have the power to right wrongs. The question is: will you?.