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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

MLK’s Dream Eludes Congressional Republican Leaders

Today, the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream. should be a great day for America, with President Obama and former Presidents Carter and Clinton joining many thousands of King’s followers on the National Mall for a joyful celebration.
You would think congressional Republican leaders would join in celebrating Dr. King’s bipartisan dream of a nation united in justice, equality and opportunity as transcendent values shared by Americans across the political spectrum. You would think that. But you would be wrong.
It would have been a big surprise if congressional Republican leaders joined the commemorative march on Saturday, since the tone was more political. But today will be more a day of tributes and affirmations of the ‘brotherhood’ part of Dr.King’s speech. Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell are not on the program, having reportedly turned down invitations as a result of prior commitments, as did former President Bush. It’s not like they didn’t know this milestone anniversary was coming up.
Today, even yellow dog Democrats should hope they will change their minds and do at least a drive-by. MLK’s dream included Republicans. Indeed many were present for the ’63 March….but that was then.
Fortunately, some Republican governors, even conservative ones in Utah and Kansas, will be taking part in nation-wide bell-ringing ceremonies commemorating Dr. King’s dream and his call to “Let Freedom Ring,” according to commemoration organizers. The A.P. reports that more than a 100 locations have scheduled bell-ringing programs in synch with 3 p.m. Eastern Time. March organizers say they have registered more than 300 bell-ringing events across the U.S., and they think there will be hundreds more that didn’t bother to register. There will likely be a healthy turnout of Republican rank and file and local leaders at these events.
Sad that their leaders in congress have other commitments.

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