“People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.
It may still be the darkest part of winter, but the Michigan Legislature is in-session and the President is back in the Oval Office. The election hub-bub is over and the real work begins.
There are undoubtedly many reading this magazine who are disappointed with the election results. There may be some who are indifferent. There may even be some who are happy. In the best of all possible worlds, everybody — regardless of political affiliation — would be reading the Mackinac Center’s work.
The only realistic path to that sort of Utopia is through communication. Dropping our latest cigarette smuggling study on the desk of those who believe government is the answer to every problem will likely be ineffective. Waving our hands above our head at the latest financial obligation from Washington will perhaps relieve our anger, but will accomplish little, for ourselves or anybody else.
A quick scan of our nation’s most popular publications suggests that we live in an angry world; a world of epithets. Politicians’ names are thrown around as if they were used car salesmen. Our news-providers yell angrily at their guests when they disagree. Taxpayers (that is, the rest of us) are rarely mentioned except as a citation.
So how do we, those who understand the universal benefit of free markets and liberty, convey our message in the best-chosen language?
First, we must listen to those who hate our message and understand why. Fundamentally, we may not change their minds in this lifetime, but we can make our message smarter, and hopefully more effective.
Second, we should abandon our fear of saying what we think. When people leave Michigan by the tens of thousands, we know the state’s policies are bad for people, not only principles. There is nothing more powerful than voting with one’s feet. When the union member standing out in the cold protesting right-to-work legislation earns only $8.50 an hour, we know the union is not using its dues money for his benefit, and therefore deserves less government-mandated power and support.
Third, we must reach out to those with whom we have little in common. Whether this person believes in this God, or no God, or sends their kid to private school or public school, or wears these clothes or those clothes, our focus must always be on what works for everybody — and that is a government that doesn’t hinder people on their own path.
These things are not truly instinctive, and often unpleasant, which is why it’s a mark of our surety in freedom that we are willing to do these things. There will be those people who continue their ad hominem attacks against us; that should not halt our efforts to reach out. The more people we can help, the more people who can help us in the future.
These words of Martin Luther King Jr. are profound because they are not exclusive by politics, geography or creed. They simply offer wisdom to anyone who is willing to take it. Here at the Mackinac Center, it will be our task to be wiser than ever this year, and to be sure we do our best to spread the value of our ideas and convictions to as many people as we can, for everyone’s benefit.