In every society, there is a battle between two powerful opposing forces of human nature. These notions are often mutually exclusive, as the favor of one usually creates the denial of the other. This battle continues to play out, even today.
I am describing the opposing forces of “entitlement” versus “equality.”
The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines entitlement as “the feeling or belief that you deserve to be given something.”
Those who are treated with special deference due to status, race, faith, or through heredity would be considered “entitled” if for these reasons they would have special rights and privilege and unique access to resources.
The American revolution was essentially a rejection of British rule, which was at the time empowered and entitled to tax, control and rule the American colonies.
Examples of entitlement can also apply to those who feel their racial composition or religious affiliation supersede in value and worthiness over those different from themselves.
Equality is defined as “the state of being equal, especially in status, rights and opportunities.”
An example of equality is the intention to promote non-differential treatment and offer identical access to resources regardless of race, which is what we call “racial equality.”
The Black Lives Matter movement and protests against bigotry and hatred of those of Asian and Pacific Islander descent are seeking treatment with equality, and not for anything special.
Our Constitution famously was framed on the cornerstone that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
In contrast, our Constitution also designated white land owners as having the right to vote, while denying the same voting rights to women and people of color.
In reality, if only some and not all are “entitled,” literally this means for others “equality” is denied. Despite the passage of 245 years, many Americans still seek “equality.”
Former President Donald Trump’s play on entitlement was the key to his rise to power. Trump embraced four principles of entitlement messaging: nationalism, religious preference, racial supremacy and anti-literalism.
Nationalism: Trump framed nationalism as a zero-sum notion where America is first and therefore other nations are last.
In truth, a tide of prosperity among many nations enriches them all and enhances stability. The depletion of any nation’s prosperity can affect us, even from thousands of miles away.
Look at the mass migration from Central America right now. The two devastating hurricanes this summer nearly wiped out the Honduran, Nicaraguan and Guatemalan economies. The Mexican economy today is strong. Notice almost all the migrant children coming across our southern border are from Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala, and almost none are from Mexico.
Putting American interests first while neglecting the support of other nations creates an imbalance that even from 2,000 miles away affects our borders and depletes our resources.
Religious Preference: While painting a view that all Muslim countries are breeding terrorists, Trump pandered to Christian evangelicals, pretending to offer them preference and special rights while denying travel and access with his anti-Muslim rhetoric.
Racial Supremacy: “Steal the Vote” supporters complain votes from white voters were nullified because increased access to voters of color gave voters of color greater influence. This view seems to be the core of the Trump lie that the election was “stolen.” Many on Jan. 6 who attempted to halt the constitutional process of vote certification were white voters who felt themselves being “replaced” by voters of color.
Trump’s entitlement views also imply that voters of color deserve to be suppressed, the motive behind recent Republican efforts to restrict voting access for people of color.
Anti-liberalism: Trump often threatens that the radical left, ANTIFA, Democrats and socialists are going to destroy the country, and take away your rights, your guns and your well-being.
Trump’s messages of entitlement did not cause many to abandon the more noble mindset of equality. He simply motivated those who already felt entitled and wished to deny equality for others.
In order to be played as a fool, one must already be a fool.
Jonathan Kraut directs a private investigations agency, is the CEO of a private security firm, is the COO of an acting conservatory, a published author, and Democratic Party activist. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal or of other organizations.