Cultural Differences and the GOP
Excerpt: “When we explore and participate in other cultures these groups accept all of us for who we are, for the character and integrity which we display to them.”
In a newsclip recently, President Obama said, “We’ve all fought this fight together, no matter what our background, or where we are from, together….”
In another address from the White House, Obama referencing the Founding Fathers:
“It was 238 years ago that our founders came together in Philadelphia to launch our American experiment. There were farmers and businessmen, doctors and lawyers, ministers and a kite-flying scientist.
Those early patriots may have come from different backgrounds and different walks of life. But they were united by a belief in a simple truth – …….” (DailyKos)
Cultural differences exist, whether we recognize them or not. Republicans in particular have been slow to examine themselves on the issue of cultural inclusion, as if by ignoring these shortcomings, or focusing on differences, this is the totality of their end game. This will not win over specific blocks at the voting booth.
Poll after poll of Latino, Asian and African American voters cite “faith and family” values as clearly aligned with Conservatives, and by default the GOP. And yet, there is still a wide chasm between Latino perceptions that Conservatives do not respect cultural differences and diversity. Focusing on Latino perceptions is instructive, since in many polls they register in the high 60’s consistently as opposed to African Americans for instance, where the polls seem to parallel new trends or media agendas.
In order to co opt the President’s strategy and use of Code Speak, conservatives first need to address the fact that there ARE cultural differences between the die hard conservatives and say the Latino or Asian communities. Acknowledging differences can set society backwards ~ accepting that there are differences will not improve strength at the polls but is a start.
Akin to an alcoholic or addict first “having to admit they have a problem” conservatives and the GOP have to move beyond the denial/acceptance stage. Formulating a compassionate and humble acceptance of other cultures and values is more easily accomplished than what the mainstream press would have Conservatives and the GOP believe.
It is no rare irony, or conundrum. Since the dawn of history, accepting another culture’s value systems, while retaining one’s own is a neat feat. After all, the very term: “cultural differences” would seem to focus on another group’s ideals, paradigm, habits, family values, community, health, finance, work and leisure. Doesn’t this put us right back into the realm of pointing out differences? Doesn’t a poll showing Latinos closely aligned with the Democrats on Social and Cultural Issues leave the GOP and Conservatives pointing out that they don’t think the same way? Should conservatives feel betrayed or resent Latinos who closely identifying on values do not show loyalty at the polls?
The answer is not in looking at differences, but in changing ourselves. We must all take a very hard look at how and what we are as human beings, and what we are doing about changing our behaviors and how we treat other cultures.
Sensitivity goes a long way. Understanding cultural differences and remaining open to change is a powerful tool. When we actually take on the willingness to understand the values and mindset of others we fulfill a deep spiritual and psychological need within us.
There is more to be gained by inclusion, than in separating groups, or pointing out differences. If Asian, African American and Latino voters are more closely aligned with Conservatives on Gay Marriage, Abortion, Religion, Family Values and safer streets, then they cannot be taken for granted. It is ok to explore other areas of inclusion. What about Cultural Differences as an area in which Conservatives, rather than taking the subject off the table, move forward with not only lip service, but actual practice?
Braving the world of cultural diversity is not as hard as you think. Here of course, I risk sounding oversimplified, and someone will take my words out of context. So I will formulate the argument in the form of a few simple questions:
Do you visit with other groups and learn about them?
Do you ask questions or inquire as to other cultural histories or traditions?
Do you ask yourself how often you accept other cultural habits or actions; or do you just not care?
How often do you volunteer or participate in community service which involves minorities, or other cultures?
Changing the perception by African Americans, Latinos or Asians that Conservatives are sensitive to “cultural differences” is more than code speak. Throwing sound bytes out with each speech ~ pamphleteering in Spanish for instance, is probably more than most are even willing to contemplate.
Volunteering with other groups, attending events, and being a caring loving giving voter block is every person’s duty to themselves and the community. Riding in the Italian, or Gay or Vietnamese Parade is often just that – done by a Politician out to get a vote, and the cynicism that this creates is well deserved. When we start the process of learning about other cultures, it can be as simple as shaking the hand of a neighbor ~ smiling at the “strange” looking person who we’ve been trained to fear. Opening our minds and hearts to others is truly a wonderful learning experience and one which we should approach cheerfully and without expectation of return or reward.
Focusing on other cultures and participating in other groups ways of life is inclusive, and levels the playing field for ALL GROUPS EVERYWHERE. When we are not only accepting but we participate in other cultures, we allow them to accept us for who we are, and they are not swayed by media hype or images. When we explore and participate in other cultures these groups accept all of us for who we are, for the character and integrity which we display to them.
Lon Dunn is Editor / Publisher of Social N Worldwide