Thursday, September 4, 2008

Being Unified

Watching the Republican National Convention last night, I was profoundly struck by the images of the same: men and women in starched suits with no particular varied rhythms of their own. Who would think that unity had a downside? Unity has a downside when you can look over a vast audience in a diverse country and see no diversity and feel little acceptance in the camera images. Where were the plumbers, auto workers, dishwashers, farmers, and construction workers? You know the ones, those who don't wear suits and ties.

In watching the crowd I tried to imagine what professions those in attendance might hold outside of the convention. Are they doctors, nurses, lawyers, accountants, CEOs, managers and small business owners? But do they ever come in contact with others who are different from themselves? If not, how does this affect their leadership? They must be quite isolated and disconnected from the American people by and large. Who are their customers? Who are their constituents?

Now, those in attendance at the Republican National Convention are undoubtedly good law abiding citizens. But I can't help wondering while looking over the sea of sameness whether they are in touch with the majority of the American people. I can't help wondering in listening to the fear mongering rhetoric of the speakers last night to galvanize the base, to the thunderous applause of the audience, if what matters most is power and privilege and not the crucial matters facing the majority of the American people this very hour.

Sameness has its place. But the best kind of unity comes through diversity.


Dave Wheeler said...

Judith...I too wondered the same thing regarding the lack of "diversity" of those in attendance at the GOP convention. Why is it that some folks align themselves with the same party affilliation (Republicans and Democrats alike)when neither party has been able to solve the same core of issues...poverty, crime, education, racial divide and injustice over the course of the past four or five decades? Change?I'm thinking that is going to be difficult when there is barely a gnat's behinds difference between either parties 2004 and 2008 platforms...same rhetoric, same solutions, just different faces. Found an interesting tool on that gives an in-depth analysis of the voting records of our Congressional representatives. One item was the number of times they voted with/against their party. Seems that Sen Biden (96.6%), Sen Obama (96.0), and Sen McCain (88.3%) pretty consistently tow the party line in their voting. Hardly indicative of the type of coaliion and partnership building skills that will be essential to break the political gridlock and paralysis of the past years. What's that they say, if the opposite of pro is con then the oppositie of pro-gress would be con-gress?

The presense of a black man and woman on their parties ticket is a start and a sign of progress. I have been working on a project on the issues and challenges single working paents face and during my reading have learned of a variety of groups such as C.O.R.E. (Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education), HBCU Republican Blog, Black Enterprise, Project 21, many others that are challenging the status quo and looking outside the Democratic party and traditional "civi rights" organizations for different solutions to the problems facing the black community. Again, a change in attitude and philosophy that can only benefit both parties or lead to the beginnings of a third, fourth or tenth new party where like minded folks, ireespective of color or gender, can find representation.

Is the lack of diversity a party choice or a personal one? I feel it's the latter but do see some change on the horizon...real change at the community level, the frontline if you will. Those who know what the real problems and solutions are.

By the way...were there a certain women of color on any ballot in any election I was eligible to vote for she could count on my support and vote! 2012 or 2016 perhaps?

judith ellis said...

Dave -- What wonderful words. Thank you. After writing a published letter to the Detroit Free Press about the Democratic Party taking the black vote for granted and losing so badly in the House and Senate, I voted for Republican candidates and worked hard to assist a Republican friend in his senate race. I, however, did not approve of the Iraq war. What are your thoughts of Lieberman, by the way?

For me, it is most certainly not about political parties or race per se. I do, however, see things as I see them and will call them out as I see them, no matter the political party. I must also say that I have little to be discouraged about the Democratic candidates. (Their spouses are pretty great too!) The Republican candidates, however, concern me a bit more.

I am probably by nature an Independent more than anyting else. Race and party affiliations in and of themselves are not my greatest concern. (By the way, the diversity spoken of here was not merely about race, but includes social economics as well.) What concerns me more is the improbablity of how well leaders lead with only a short sighted view or interactions with so very few of the American people.

judith ellis said...

Dave - Just re-read your comment and caught your last bit. Thank you, my friend, for the vote of confidence--very nice indeed!

Dave Wheeler said...

I have no doubt that you would call them as you see them Ms. Ellis! This would be but one of the many reasons I would pull a lever or mark a ballot next to your name.

The Nassim Nicholas Taleb quote from the Black Swan you posted previously "You cannot ignore self-delusion. The problem with experts is that they do not know what they do not know. Lack of knowledge and delusion about the quality of your knowledge come together-the same process that makes you know less also makes you satisfied with your knowledge." was one I found to be absolutely true. It could be applied to many of our elected representatives, political consultants, and members of the media today. In the world of business one's capaity to learn and change is embraced and essential for growth and profitability. In the world of politics it makes you a flip flopper and one who can not be trusted. Looking at the tenure of many elected representatives and the tremendous advantages incumbents have their challengers when it comes to getting elected perhaps the real change that is needed for progress lies in the reform of the electoral process itself.

I'm reminded of the lyrics of the Stevie Wonder song "You haven't Done Nothing"

"But we are sick and tired of hearing your song
Telling how you are gonna change right from wrong
'Cause if you really want to hear our views
"You haven't done nothing"!

Might make a great campaign song for a terrifically open minded and independent woman candidate don't you think? I do believe there was a change in the Motor City's Mayor's office yesterday if I'm not mistaken.

judith ellis said...

Dave - What is going in Detroit currently is one of the most disheartening things ever. It is shameful when defiance and arrogance supercede good judgement. It is also shameful when the race card is used by an African American and when the mostly African American community is expected to fall in line simply because a person is of the same race. We, by in large, did no such thing!

Personally, I felt like Mayor Kilpatrick's tenure has been fraught with too many controversies and that he squandered a great opportunity to bring needed change to Detroit. While he may be an intelligent young man in many ways, his behavior in many incidents causes one to wonder exactly where his brain is. He knows better. His mother has been in the House for many years and is on the Appropriations Committee. She is also chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus. Yesterday was a sad day indeed, but one that I think was absolutely necessary.

While politics interest me greatly, I have felt that I could make greater change in the private sector. I am, however, not opposed to service of any kind. I was raised to serve.

Dave Wheeler said...

Be it in the political or private sector you will indeed make a positive difference in anyone's life that you touch. I know I certainly have learned a few new things and changed a view or two through our cyber conversations.

judith ellis said...

Many thanks, Dave. You too have given me pause to think about a great many things. It is the belief of others in us that encourages us and makes the difference in our daily work. I sincerely thank you for your words. They most certainly matter.