Slums are not born, they are made. When I was a child, my father (a career Army NCO) would use most of his annual leave during the summer. On several occasions, my parents, my next older brother and I bundled into the car and spent the time making the rounds of family who lived mainly in North Carolina (my mother's birthplace), Maryland (my father's) and New York (where both my parents were partly raised, living with near relations).
In New York City we mainly stayed with my Aunt Jenny. I always enjoyed those visits. My aunt was a wonderful cook (I especially remember roast lamb, rice with rich lamb gravy and green beans sautéed in a bit of pork fat before steaming – thoroughly unhealthy, as I later learned, but so tasty). She was also a meticulous housekeeper, and she and my Uncle Anthony had over the years assembled some handsome furnishings. But though I enjoyed staying with them, I always dreaded arriving at the building on Grand Avenue in Brooklyn, N.Y., where they had lived for over 20 years. I remember having to clamber over winos littered about the stairs that led up to the entrance. My aunt and uncle lived several floors up. We had to make our way up several flights, in sparse light and sometimes darkness, through puddles of water and unsavory smells of garbage, urine and vomit, with vermin skittering about in the shadows.
Their home hadn't always been thus. They had photos from the late '30s, I think, when it had been a pristine location – the streets clean, the building well-kept – much the way my aunt and uncle still kept their apartment. But as the neighborhood lost its ethnic diversity, the building probably became a cash cow for landlords with no interest in its maintenance. Lights weren't replaced, walls and ceilings were left in disrepair and old plumbing gave out. You know the story. The people who moved in once things were in such a condition often had no more care for themselves than the landlords had for the real estate. A depressing cycle of decline produced the result that inspired my childish dread.
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Those visits, and other such conditions I have seen in the years since then, keep coming back to my mind as I ponder the present plight of my country. The spreading stain of the Gulf oil spill haunts my sense of its condition, calling to mind the unsavory puddles that marred access to my aunt and uncle's home. I read stories of the deteriorating conditions along the border, and I think of the holes in the walls where rusted, leaky plumbing showed through. I read of the U.S. government ceding control of U.S. parkland to criminal thugs, and I think of the places we were told to avoid, where drug dealers, muggers and gangs made the streets unsafe for anyone who wasn't part of their netherworld.
America has become a cash cow for the Obama faction and their fellow traveling elitists. Like the exploitative landlords, they are milking it for all it's worth, with no regard for the future or the conditions in which its people will have to live. They give short shrift to the basic maintenance, of our borders, our waterways and our security from the terrorist and criminal thugs seeking to destroy us. They choose instead to amass power for themselves and distribute billions in pursuit of their agenda of totalitarian control. In these Obama years, we witness the slumming of America.
The projects, like the space program, a testament to our hopeful, striving spirit, are being shuttered now, like the overgrown parks and playgrounds of a neglected neighborhood. And like the people in such neighborhoods, we are being forced into ever-greater dependence on forces that care for nothing but their own power and profit. We are being patronized, lied to and maneuvered into inescapable subjection to their will. In these Obama years, we witness the slumming of America's spirit.
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The people that more than once helped saved the world from desperate evil; that truly without meaning to conquered nations in the grip of soul-destroying tyranny, not in order to rule over them, but to return them to themselves; that called the world to conclave for the sake of peace and in the hope, however naively implemented, that the competition of war could be replaced with the constructive emulation of peaceful development: this people is now patronized by smug elitists. They demean our faith. They despoil our credit and good name. They stealthily subvert and surrender the ideas and institutions that allowed us to vindicate the people's capacity for self-government and so fulfill the hope often expressed as the nation began.
In these Obama years, we witness the slumming of America's past, of America's liberty, of America's Constitution, of America's decent pride. But most importantly of all, we witness the slumming of America's respect for God and the idea of justice that accords with God's will. Slyly, insistently, we see the promotion of policies that abandon the self-evident truths the nation was founded on. These truths demand respect for the lives of our nascent offspring. These truths demand respect for the integrity of the natural family. These truths demand respect for individual responsibility in economics and self-government. But in all these respects they are being cast aside.
In a sense steeped in the blood, sweat, tears and faithfulness of all the generations before us, our fate is still in our own hands. Each ballot we have the right to cast represents a piece of it. We are the landlords here. And we will have at least one more opportunity to prove it this coming November. We may use it to declare in no uncertain terms that the slumming of America ends now, along with the self-exalting power of those responsible for it. But only if we are willing to reject those who want us to believe that we can stop the rot without restoring our nation's allegiance to the God who made us free. Our fate and that of the nation is in our hands, but only if we act as America's founders did and submit our hearts, and the heart of the nation, to the authority of the Creator God.