The political conventions are over and but a blip on our collective memory at this point. News of other events have replaced convention coverage, 9/11 tributes have us reconsidering our priorities, and life has carried on. I watched parts of the Republican National Convention, the main events at least. I think it’s important to know what all sides are talking about so I can make decisions based on facts, my own experiences, and the paradigm I come from. I admittedly watched the RNC with skepticism and found myself yelling at the television a lot. My political counterparts would likely say the same thing. See, we do have things in common! I was fortunate to go to the Democratic National Convention, so my personal experience certainly skews my perspective on both affairs.
While in Charlotte I was wrapped in the folds of shared sensibilities. It was refreshing to be among so many like-minded people, fierce advocates, risk takers, and regular people who simply want to be heard. I was admittedly a bit smitten when I saw Chris Matthews, Barbara Mikulski (who has been my hero since I was a teenager), fellow mothers on a mission, and of course, the President and First Lady themselves. It’s a trifle embarrassing to geek out over political figures, right? What floored me the most at the DNC was the diversity in the crowd, on the streets, in the stadium, at every single venue. I saw men in turbans, women in red hats, gentlemen in seersucker suits, young mothers, grandfathers, veterans, college students, and people of every shade in the Crayola box of multicultural crayons. The faces represented the kaleidoscope of people that make up America. To be in a sea of people from all walks of life was profound, especially since I am often the one brown face everywhere I go in my corner of the world.
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The RNC lacked diversity on so many levels. I found it unnerving when the camera panned the crowd. I even heard some foreign correspondents from Europe talking about this very thing. They too were alarmed at the lack of diversity in Tampa. Their vision of America was different than what they saw. Based on visuals alone, I cannot help but wonder if the Republican party really is the party to govern, lead, and represent all Americans. My sense is that it has become a party for the white and wealthy. Many who identify themselves as Republican are going to vote against their own best interests. Party affiliation and convention hoopla aside, we should be examining both parties based on issues, not just the branding of the party.
Republicans are faced with showing Americans that they truly are the party of inclusiveness rather than exclusivity. If it’s not a genuine assertion, this shall prove difficult. Democrats need to stick a steel rod in their backbones and speak authoritatively on the issues that weigh down America. Jobs. Economic growth. Military support and veteran services. Education. Health care. Equal rights. We don’t need cheerleading as much as we need leadership.
Image via Ilina Ewen