January 21, 2008

I Have A (Private) Dream

It wouldn't be an Election Year without some controversy. First, it's a dog strapped to the roof, then Mr. Romney get accused of being tolerant...

But, anyway, back to the issue at hand. A couple of weeks ago, Hillary Clinton said this: "Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act... It took a President to get it done." All sorts of reaction here and here. My good friend Niel Conan even did an in-depth story on the three Presidents that MLK worked with.

I want to take a second and peel through to the core of Ms. Clinton's comments. In full disclosure, I am a debate away from throwing my lot in with Obama, so my defense of Clinton's comments is pure in motive. Promise.

Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) are all the rage. Mainly, PPPs show up in the forms of toll roads, parkways, and mass transit. Traditionally, the term is used for these types of projects, including Central Park in New York City. However, the definition and practicality of these partnerships are much more wide ranging than highways and multi-use parks. Nonprofits, Universities, and other organizations partner with the government all the time. Any time an individual from the private sector (whether truly an individual, or an organization) joins forces with the State, it becomes a public-private partnership.

For instance, when someone has a ground-breaking idea that would push forward reconciliation and equality, it isn't such a bad idea to have the President in your corner on the issue. It was Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream. Clinton didn't dispute that fact. She was merely stating that he was also successful in communicating his dream to the men who held the pens necessary to make that dream a reality. And that is public-private partnership at its best.

It's amazing how much people who are notorious for breaking (and changing) the rules actually followed them. Gandhi was a lawyer and spoke eloquently to and with world leaders. Momma T was part of the largest organization on earth and used it to touch the lives of children. And Martin Luther King, Jr. drank from water fountains "for coloreds only".

So give Hillary a break. Because she was right. Without the sphere of influence that the Oval Office gave him, MLK's dream would still be just that. A dream.

"PETA is not happy that my dog likes fresh air."
Mitt Romney

A Post-Script - Arizona State University is hosting a conference next month (which I will be attending), on public-private partnerships. Details here.

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