In 1908, Winston Churchill wrote, “The seed of Imperial ruin and national decay [lies in] the unnatural gap between the rich and the poor [and] the swift increase of vulgar . . . luxury.” In the same decade, Republican President Teddy Roosevelt said, “The supreme political task of our day is to drive the special interests out of our public life.” A generation later, his cousin President Franklin Roosevelt would offer that “political equality is meaningless in the face of economic inequality.” Justice Louis Brandeis of the U.S. Supreme Court framed his concern in ominous terms: “We can have a democracy, or we can have great wealth in the hands of a comparative few, but we cannot have both.”
Immigration in America is a mess. Its awful odors are hard to miss, but let me indicate one. Alabama has a law that aims to make life as near to impossible as possible for undocumented workers. Police are to stop and demand documents from anyone they suspect of being not-American; teachers must identify children whose parents have no documents; and anyone who offers support or shelter to undocumented workers is subject to criminal penalties. . .
You need both, you know—both wings. Every nation, every organization, needs the conservatives, who give attention to the existing structure. And every nation needs its liberals and progressives, who give attention to what must yet come into being, and must come into our being, if we are to adapt to the forces of change in society and technology which history throws up like siege works against every living thing.