"Equal rights for all, special privileges for none" / by kevin murray

While Thomas Jefferson is credited for the above quote, it was most notably used as the progressive Democratic platform slogan in 1908, by Williams Jennings Bryan, who was subsequently defeated by the Republican candidate Taft in that same year.  It is fair to say, that one hundred years after Jefferson, was the time of Bryan, and one hundred years after that, is the present age, so that, this noble search for equal rights for all, and special privileges for none, has been part and parcel of the great American experiment since the inception of this nation, and still has not been successfully resolved.


In point of fact, while there has been notable progress in equal rights, for those of color and of the sexes, this is still a nation that is clearly biased in the favor of white males, though what once use to be an institution, that was exclusively all white and all male, has evolved over the years to become more inclusive.  In regards to special privileges, it is difficult not to state that never have there been so few that have so much, at the expense of those that have so little; despite the fact, that the aggregate wealth on America dwarfs all other countries, with the notable exception of China, which is still far behind America in wealth, despite having a population that is four times greater than America.


It would be one thing if those that were superrich fairly earned their money, of which, no doubt, there probably are some that could be classified as such, but the fact that the superrich are able to not only to create that wealth, fairly or not, but to also set up dynastic wealth, that subsequently undermines democratic institutions is the reason why this is a country that may speak very eloquently of equality but provides, often behind closed doors, special privileges to special people as well as special institutions that allows those people and institutions to unfairly increase their wealth, influence, and power at the expense of the people.


The Constitution is the highest law of this land, but mere words on a piece of paper, no matter how sacred or important, mean nothing, if those very laws and principals can be circumvented, overturned, ignored, or become irrelevant.  The United States political mouthpieces too often profess to believe that the opportunity to make money, the making of money, the business of money, and business itself, is somehow the be-all and end-all of American existence, and that therefore a rising tide lifts all boats.  This is the same tired rhetoric that has been used since time immemorial, and simply isn't true, and is less true today than in the previous two generations.


America is clearly a nation that has an elite upper class, of so much wealth and power, that the three richest individuals in America collectively hold more wealth than the bottom 50% of that same population, so to honestly believe that somehow that wealth came to those three individuals without them personally receiving or the corporations that they are a part of receiving special privileges in order to get that wealth is to also believe that Santa Claus really does exist. 


If America, truly lived the credo of equal rights for all, and special privileges for none, and really was a country of equal opportunity and meritocracy, the end result would not be an elite few having all of the wealth and power, but rather a far more equal distribution of wealth, liberty, fairness, justice, and happiness.