The most interesting post-election reflection that I have seen was written by David Brooks, the center-right opinion columnist for the New York Times, and published on Nov. 8.
Brooks posited that the philosophy of the Republican Party — more government diminishes initiative and engenders a greater sense of entitlement — reflects a worldview familiar to those Americans, especially in the South and West, who have been shaped by the American creed of individualism and the frontier experience. But the successful Democratic coalition was comprised in part by people whose cultural roots and mindsets are fundamentally different. And the difference is not in the “entitlement” area, that divisive and corrosive argument about whether your mortgage tax deduction is morally superior to my student loan or Joe’s Medicare or Cindy’s Social Security disability payment.
No, the difference has to do with the value placed on the role of government to stimulate hard work. Yes, you read it right.
Asian-Americans and Hispanics, according to respected researchers (and frankly, I think most of us would acknowledge this from our own experience), are highly industrious people, placing hard work and family at the top of their value systems. But they believe that government, rightly positioned, can enhance their spirit of entrepreneurship and industriousness by assisting with access to education, loans, fair wages and after-school programs, and by fighting discrimination. Asian-Americans voted 3-1 for Democrats; Hispanics went 70-plus percent for Democrats and may have been the margin of victory in at least three swing states.
And let’s think about the younger-than-30 crowd, who were again big Obama voters. For them, the hysteria on social issues by too many Republicans around the country was simply mystifying, not to say downright frightening. Most young people today have gay friends, and they have little patience with, or understanding of, those who think it is OK to discriminate against them. They also think they are perfectly capable of relying on their doctors and consciences in making their own health decisions
They appreciate their student loans and want to be able to afford health care. And they are working hard, often carrying two jobs and many as part of a huge new wave of technology entrepreneurs, so don’t tell them they are slackers and parasites.
All of us who live in Southern Utah recognize that Republicans are the majority Party here, and Republican candidates (all men, if I’m not mistaken) prevailed here. But still, there is a current of hate and fear that is expressed too often about the state of a country that re-elected President Obama. Is it possible to hope that people will put aside the ugliness and hate-mongering and make an attempt to understand, even respect, a different point of view?
I love this country too much to engage in behavior that vilifies my neighbor or that will tear us apart more than build us up. It is the mosaic of our collective perspectives that has always made us great, and that will continue to create a stronger United States.
Linda Watt is a resident of Ivins