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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tolerance and Inclusion (Part One)

 (This is the first segment in a two part series which begins here today.)

What is the universal cure for intolerance?  How do we increase the size of the tent?  How do we become somebody else? …

One of America’s core values is acceptance of different cultures which then blend into one common cultural identity.  E pluribus unum, or one from many, is a uniquely American claim.  This core value is based squarely on principles of tolerance and inclusion.  Often, however, in action we see the other side of the coin.  On the one hand, we preach tolerance and inclusion but, on the other hand, we can’t seem to avoid the practice of intolerance and exclusion.

It is said that the cure for intolerance --- is diversity --- whether it be a diversity of peoples, a diversity of opinions, or both.  A sprinkle of enlightenment wouldn’t do much harm, either.  Former President Bill Clinton made a statement once that gave a lasting impression.  He said he was getting sick and tired of people who simplified America’s problems into a finger pointing rant which went something like this: “It’s the blacks.  It’s the Jews.  It’s the Puerto Ricans.  It’s the Catholics.  It’s the Japs.  It’s the Russians.  It’s the Muslims.  It’s the gays.”  Mr. Clinton then paused for maximum effect, before completing his thought: “When, actually, that’s who we are.  It’s us!”

One of the most effective ways to increase diversity, including a healthy diversity of opinion, and thereby to consider even marginal views as a healthy byproduct, is simply to increase the size of the tent.  The “All Welcome” sign is a familiar one.  But talk is cheap.  Can we put it into practice?  Perhaps, a good place to start is by making a conscious effort at being more inclusive, more tolerant, of the way things are.

If we are nothing else, we are a nation of immigrants.  And, perhaps the greatest contribution of immigrants to the fabric of America lies in the rich, cultural diversity which each and every immigrant population delivers consistently, generation upon generation.  How else can we explain the “the bastard mulatto child of a heterogeneous American culture, combining black rhythm and blues with white country music?”  Of course, by definition here we are speaking of the phenomenon of rock and roll music.

How do we increase the size of the tent?  The ordinary citizen would suspect that following another bitter defeat in the hotly contested presidential election of 2012, the national Republican Party would surely want to know.  It is insufficient in today’s environment to rely merely upon principles which although still sound in many respects appeal to an increasingly narrow, limited audience.  The head in the sand, alternative universe formula has proven at last to be an utter failure.

The fact that demographics are changing the face of America is not a particular secret.  Those who made it their business to give the matter the serious attention it deserves know that the process has been ongoing for a considerable period of time.

And so the Democrats’ inclusive platform which successfully projected to a remarkably diverse audience had impressive numerical strength to carry the day.  The 2012 presidential election was not an exception to the rule that says the party whose appeal is closer to the political center line typically carries elections.

The Republican Party is now relegated to catch up role.  While time marches on, the sooner the Republicans come to grips the better off we all are.  America needs two strong national parties, if for no other reason than each to keep the other honest and in check, not permitting the more powerful of the two to slide toward despotic rule.  The Republican Party must learn to increase the size of the tent.  In the process it must transform itself.  But how best to do that?

(Next week’s second segment illustrates the most efficient means to go about the transformative process of increasing the size of the tent.)

-Michael D'Angelo

1 comment:

  1. first i would say that in order to make the tent larger you, as a political animal would need to have have some legitimite feelings for all people. sadly the gop has never shown, in all of my years to really care about the broad spectrum of people that make up america.if you are in a gop state you are important as a voter, but otherwise you must be a substancial donor to elicit any response from the gop. you would have to look back at least 35 or 40 years to find decent, conservative, republicans.the polticians of that era were believers in small government but were willing to at least sit down at the table and discuss issues that affected all the gop is unwilling to even have a discussion about what is good for america,that in itself is a very sad commentary on the poltics of today.