Senator Rand Paul expressed it perfectly in a tweet on Wednesday evening when he said: “It is simply unimaginable to think of what kind of America we might be living in today if not for MLK’s courage and triumph.” Martin Luther King Jr. immeasurably changed the United States for the better, helping to heal a divided nation while offering an overwhelmingly positive vision for the future. Barack Obama’s speech on the 50th anniversary of MLK’s Washington address was an opportunity to bring Americans together and unite the country in memory of a greatly revered American leader. Instead, as my colleague Tim Stanley pointed out in his excellent piece, this was a deeply partisan speech, filled with campaign-style rhetoric. In Tim’s words, “he uses a day that ought to be marked by national unity as an opportunity to deliver a stump speech, even though he’s not running for election.”

Barack Obama used his address to reiterate the same themes he has been hammering home in a series of recent speeches. These ranged from class warfare and anti-capitalist rhetoric, of the kind usually deployed by French Socialists, to a call for more government programs.

According to the president:

For over a decade, working Americans of all races have seen their wages and incomes stagnate. Even as corporate profits soar, even as the pay of a fortunate few explodes, inequality has steadily risen over the decades. Upward mobility has become harder. In too many communities across this country in cities and suburbs and rural hamlets, the shadow of poverty casts a pall over our youth, their lives a fortress of substandard schools and diminished prospects, inadequate health care and perennial violence.

… Entrenched interests — those who benefit from an unjust status quo resisted any government efforts to give working families a fair deal, marshaling an army of lobbyists and opinion makers to argue that minimum wage increases or stronger labor laws or taxes on the wealthy who could afford it just to fund crumbling schools — that all these things violated sound economic principles.

We’d be told that growing inequality was the price for a growing economy, a measure of the free market — that greed was good and compassion ineffective, and those without jobs or health care had only themselves to blame.

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