"I Thought About You" is a popular love song composed by Jimmy Van Heusen with lyrics by Johnny Mercer in 1939. It starts, "I took a trip on a train and I thought about you." Of course in their song they were thinking about a lover.
I took a trip on a train to New Orleans recently and I thought about how embarrassed I was that we should have such terrible railway tracks in America. Most of the time, it was too dangerous to walk around and all but impossible to sleep.
I've travelled by train cross country east to west twice and the railways were bad, but this was my first time south on a train and I couldn't have imagined how bad these tracks were. I would go as far as to say that the tracks from Memphis, TN to Jackson, MS were so bad as to make walking too dangerous to try. To be fair, the conductor told us that they were the worst and we should be cautious. Had we experienced this kind of turbulence on an airplane, the seat belt sign would have remained on until we passed through it.
Back in 39 Van Heusen and Mercer's song "passed a shadowy lane" and they felt romantic. I felt fear for the gun violence that plagues our shadowy lanes. They "saw the moon shining down on some little town" and thought about their lover. I thought about the poverty I saw in ramshackle dwellings, abandoned main streets and junked vehicles.
They were looking at America in 1939. I was looking at America in 2014. I wondered what had caused so much change. Then it came to me. We were in the southern red states where the Republican economic policies abound in freedoms. Freedoms like "the right to work" for less money, freedom to discriminate against others on religious grounds, freedom to teach children religion instead of science, freedom from sex-education programs other than abstinence, and freedom from the financial burdens of decent public schools.
It was obvious: All these individual freedoms, with apparently little concern for the common good. But then I remembered Chuck Thompson's book, Better Off Without 'Em. A Northern Manifesto for Southern Succession. In it he quotes Dr. Michael Hill, president of the League of the South, a secessionist group. "of all things that divide the South from the rest of the country, the first has to be fervent Christianity." What he calls fervent looks extreme to many of us not of the South.
Then it occurred to me. This fervent Christianity seems to make the power elite extreme right Christians stingy. It's a conflict in the New Testament's two great commandments. The first, " Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind" conflicts because the Lord to the power elite is money. This love is in direct conflict with the second commandment, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
Think about it. How can they really say they're obeying the first commandment when they show love for their neighbor by providing healthcare for all, a decent education, and living wages? That would cost money.
Either they love the Lord money or they don't. Loving your neighbor is fine in theory but if it means forsaking money by spending it on other people, that's just asking too much.
And we see the result in the numbers: Average incomes from 41st to 50th lowest in the United States are all Red states except New Mexico. That's not enough? How about percentage of people living in poverty? Bottom 10 states are all Red states except New Mexico.
In simple terms, Republican economic policies don't work so they use radical religious ideals to appeal to a voting base that can't tell the difference; throwing raw meat to the ravenous.