This week marked the anniversary of the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education ruling that led to the end of segregated schools.
It was a Topeka, Kansas, issue that gave the case its name. The ruling came down during the presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was from Abilene, Kansas.
It wasn't necessarily a decision that Ike wanted to enforce. The Supreme Court justices weren't necessarily unanimous in their interpretation of the case even though the decision was unanimous.
But even though the decision wasn't popular, those in power did the right thing to make integration work.
I don't see any indication that this ruling could be made or enforced in today's polarized political climate.
Even though justices were divided in their opinion, when it became obvious that the court would repeal the "separate but equal" doctrine established by Plessey v. Ferguson, those justices in dissent changed their vote to provide a united front because the nature of the case required it if the ruling was going to be enforced peacefully. The majority of the court believed that separate schools were inherently unequal and that they violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.
Even though President Eisenhower would never support the ruling with a speech or even personally meet with civil rights leaders, when Arkansas' governor stood in the way of Brown v. Board being enforced, for the first time since the end of the Civil War, American troops were used to protect black people from white crowds.
Chief Justice Earl Warren didn't do Ike's reputation on race any favors as his recollection of a conversation didn't shine a very positive light on the president. There weren't smart phone videos or even emailed memos about every political conversation in the 1950s so Warren's recollection is the only reference that exists to an alleged statement from Eisenhower.
Warren said Ike had a soft spot for racist southerners. He said that at a White House dinner, the President told him, "These (southern whites) are not bad people. All they are concerned about is to see that their sweet little girls are not required to sit in school alongside some big overgrown Negroes."
But even though he might not have been a civil rights leader, Eisenhower did the right thing to enforce the law of the land. The words attributed to him by Warren might have been appalling, but his actions were incongruously courageous.
There is no way in today's political world that justices would change votes to make sure the message of the majority is delivered effectively. There is no chance the president would do the right thing even if it wasn't part of his own plan.
We are far too polarized for that in 2017. That's not a good thing.
Just look down the road at the Oklahoma Capitol Building for an example.
Last week, we had the Governor, the Speaker of the House and the Senate President Pro Tempore call a press conference to announce that they had reached an agreement. People don't even know what an agreement is today. They had an agreement with each other, but Democrats weren't involved in the discussions at all. They didn't even have an agreement with the Republican caucus.
They announced an agreement and when the measure that came from their very limited agreement hit the house floor, it barely received a majority of votes in a legislative body where almost three-fourths of the representatives are Republicans. That's not a great negotiation when you can't even win votes from your own party.
Because of the polarized partisanship, Oklahoma still doesn't have a budget. Because of the new idea that compromise is bad, it is almost impossible to get a good budget.
Both sides are so intent on getting perfect results, that good results become untenable. In the end, we all lose because lawmakers at the state and local level refuse to share the credit when everyone wins.
Bi-partisanship is dead and good legislation and law enforcement that benefits everyone has been buried right beside it.
Kent Bush is publisher of Shawnee (Oklahoma) News-Star and can be reached at email@example.com.