Our country was founded on the concept of enlightenment. Enlightenment was a late 17th- and 18th-century intellectual movement emphasizing reason, individualism, skepticism and the dislike for tradition. In America, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton were the most prominent leaders who were strongly influenced by enlightenment ideas. Enlightenment thinkers were the liberals of their day.

These revolutionary leaders were not perfect. Our Constitution started as an imperfect document in 1789. It took 67 years for all white males to have the right to vote. It took 77 years to grant citizenship to all citizens born or naturalized in the United States and one more year to grant the right to vote to all male citizens regardless of race, color or previous condition of servitude. It took 149 years for America to grant the right to vote to women and 175 years to end segregation and ban employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

Our enlightenment is an ongoing process. The goal of an enlightened society is all persons are equal, are treated equally with dignity, kindness and respect. No exceptions. No excuses. An enlightened society seeks rational ways of solving human problems.

The conservatives see enlightenment as evil and use lies, irrational and biased ways to minimize its achievements.

I was in high school and college when John Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr and Robert Kennedy were killed. I have never forgotten these senseless killings and now have a better understanding why they were killed. They were recharging the enlightenment movement when they were killed. This was a major setback for expanding enlightenment. It has taken decades for enlightenment to recover from these setbacks.

Now the conservatives have Trump, who they easily control. He is weakening enlightenment by weakening social justice and equality. The conservatives now control the U.S. Supreme Court, which they will use to reinterpret the Constitution to change current enlightened interpretations of our laws to more restrictive conservative interpretations.

The conservative agenda is to minimize minority voting, privatize all programs from schools to Medicare and Social Security. Ultimately, they want to change the Constitution to make their changes permanent thereby implanting their conservative ideology into every fabric of our society. Is our march, as a nation, to full enlightenment finished?

Tom Laurent

Yreka