Carroll County Times Opinion

Dean Minnich: Cycles of change and movement, and resistance to both, represents history | COMMENTARY

News is about change, and change is all about people moving. Or, this week, not moving. Some come to government to run things, others to ruin them.

The story on the southern border is the story of all history as people move from place to place, from paganism through evolving religions and the spread and incorporation of cultures as the old is faced with the new. The story in Congress this week is about resistance to the inevitability of change, and the need to deal with reality of life.


People seeking to move to the United States for new beginnings inevitably encounter entrenched populations. The populations are desperately holding on to the comforts of the traditions they believe they preserved when their ancestors arrived to carve out a place of their own, where their cultures could be sustained.

The inevitability of conflict is ultimately resolved by compromises, some at the expense of bitter warfare and blood on the new land. Which is why governments were formed, and diversity will be served.


Conservatives are yesterday’s progressives, commoners seeking a voice in who makes the rules of civilization. Christians challenging the divinity of monarchs, Protestants questioning the authority of the Roman Catholic Church, denominations adjusting the interpretations of the scriptures. And those who insisted on separation of government from church.

Progressives are the new iconoclasts and are regarded by some as the new pagans — heathens, to be blunt — and a threat to social order and justice.

Somewhere in this continuum of history, the idea of democracy was given sway — most scholars assign blame or credit to the ancient Greeks. But true to human nature, the definitions of democracy and self-realization have been adjusted time and again.

You get a majority, in theory, who agree on the rules for governance and civility, and in no time, there are challenges — sometimes from immigrants but just as likely from within, usually from some segment whose more adventurous and outspoken members begin demanding more for some people and less for other enjoying better luck and more prosperity under the existing government model.

So, you have uprisings, protests, movements within the system and ultimately movement to another system, in another place that has greener grass and the appeal of a chance at a better life.

That’s why people will walk from Guatemala or Venezuela, risk their lives in leaky boats to escape Cuba or some sandy war-torn Middle Eastern or African land to the allure of America or Western Europe.

This is a repeat of the story of the first European settlers on the shores of the American continents. And they were surprised to discover they were regarded by people already living here as being an inconvenience, if not a threat to the status quo.

From before reliable historic records, it’s obvious some things have not changed at all. Human beings want security and the freedom to live and prosper with self-determination and hope.


After all that mobility and movement, partisan political zealots “primary” representatives seeking reelection to office who have made necessary compromises and come to reasonable agreements with cohorts in Congress.

That’s how a representative like Maryland’s Andy Harris got into office seven elections ago, running on a platform of term limits. He beat out a sitting congressman who had represented the people of the Eastern Shore well in an assault by absolutist hard-right conservatives — aided by a group of backers in Carroll County and across the state — and has blocked good works since.

Among the handful of holdouts in Washington unable to even agree on a leader this week, Harris can do two things: Nothing, and abet chaos.

Dean Minnich writes from Westminster.