mercredi, novembre 07, 2012

The future has arrived

As I drove to work this morning, I had the radio tuned to NPR, as usual (in dating site profiles, I have described myself as a NPR-listening, tea-swilling moderate, caveat emptor). This morning one of the guests, post-election, was the Washington Post commentator, and former George W. Bush speechwriter, Michael Gerson.

It is he who said, looking back bravely and soberly on the wreckage of Republican hopes for the Presidency this time around, that the future has arrived -- and that it is time for his party to face this truth.

What does that mean, exactly?

Take off one's ideological lenses for a minute, and it means this --  there weren't enough white voters to ensure a Romney victory.  Or perhaps it is more accurate to say that there weren't enough male, older, white voters to get Romney into the White House.

Yes, there were women who voted for Mitt Romney.  They were, in large part (though not completely, of course), older white women.  There were Hispanics who voted for the former Massachusetts governor (but less than 30 percent). Romney held on to a lot of independent voters, but it's possible to argue that many of these soi-disant "independents" were actually Tea Party conservatives to begin with.

Younger voters, minorities, and women gave Barack Obama victory. More than 45 percent of the folk who went for Obama were minority voters.

All over America, Republicans are wondering how they can appeal to minority voters.

But my concern has little to do with ideology.

Many white voters went to the polls and voted their values and their values were much more in harmony with those of Mitt Romney than those of Barack Obama.

A contest based on opposing perspectives was fair.

But some people are also fearful.

Bad behavior, like the ongoing stream of racial innuendo directed against the President, ought not to be tolerated.

But neither is it helpful to tell those who are afraid that they are bad people, morons, or lower than you, when they may not even be able to name the emotions that impel them.

Fear itself is most natural. And that's one emotion that we all share, whatever ethnic or racial group we ally ourselves with.

I hope that we can find a way, in our communities, to talk openly and honestly about our fears as well as our values. I hope that we will be open to the truth that we are all, in our own ways, biased against each other.
I hope that we can admit the possibility that each one of us is made in God's image -- and see through her or his eyes, if only for a minute.

For the truth is, of course, that there is no such thing as a "black" person or a "white" person -- we are, genetically speaking, a mix of all kinds of ancient ancestors. We are all, if you go back far enough, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, uncles, cousins and aunts.

That which unites us is so much more than that which divides us.

Though we haven't figured this out as a species, perhaps we could, on a personal level, act as though it was true?

Yesterday I spoke to a neighbor, one with a yard sign on his lawn that identified him as a Republican. It's time for us to come together, he said -- whoever wins.  He's sick of the influence of money on elections, and the sense that he gets from those in power that having money means more than helping people.

I left that conversation feeling strangely hopeful.

The perils ahead are great -- but we are much, much stronger if we face them together.  Even if, sometimes, we make each other quake.

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