Why Diversity Is Not the Issue
In a recent visit to New Hampshire Rand Paul exhorted the GOP,
“The main thing is not to talk about me so much but about how to grow the party,” the senator told a press conference before the dinner.
And that is what he focused on at the podium.
“We need to be like the rest of America,” Paul told the gathering. “We need to grow bigger. If you want to be the party of white people, we’re winning all the white vote. But we’re a diverse nation,” he said, to a crowd that was almost entirely white. “We’re going to win when we look like America. We need to be white, we need to be brown, we need to be black, we need to with tattoos, without tattoos, with pony tails, without pony tails, with beards, without.”
There can be no doubt that a lack of diversity is a problem for the GOP. A 2010 Gallup Poll Report found that only 2% of blacks and 5% hispanics identify as Republican. Whereas, 88% whites say they identify with the GOP. Of those 47% say they are highly religious and 41% less religious. I’m all for a lot more participation by minorities in the Republican party.
But is diversity (or the lack of it) really the issue? I don’t think so.
Our country was forced to recognize the equal rights of blacks during the civil rights movement. Social structures enforced by segregation laws were torn down. In addition, America became more diverse in the decades following the sixties with immigrants coming from countries all over the world at a rate rivaling pre-depression numbers. White Americans felt their way of life being threatened. They were forced out of their comfort zone. Neighborhoods and schools were integrated. Companies began hiring and promoting from all ethnic groups. As art imitates life Hollywood began including diverse portrayals in movies and on TV.
Conservatives are known for “conserving” traditional institutions. This can include things that should be jettisoned as well as things worth conserving. Many resisted the cultural changes of the sixties. As a result different ethnic and racial groups felt unwelcome by conservatives. Yet, it’s ironic that they felt rejected. Following the Civil War, the huge majority of blacks became Republican, the party of Lincoln, when they were emancipated. Since that time, multitudes of people have come to America for the freedom our country offered. Yet most of these immigrant groups feel marginalized by the very people who scream the loudest about freedom and liberty. This is because most conservatives and establishment Republicans have been unabashed hypocrites. They preach freedom and liberty but they practice control, power politics, and crony capitalism – an attractive, welcoming message this does not make!
It’s not only conservatives who have been unwelcoming to diverse groups. It was the liberal-progressives who during the early 20th century made it a key part of their ideology that those of white European descent were superior to all others. Just consider the eugenics movement. And it was southern Democrats that were behind the Jim Crow laws and resisted integration in the South during the civil rights movement. Yet, despite this history and in an ironic turn, the Democrats have become the party of diversity. How did this happen? They shrewdly changed their political strategy by pandering to minorities with a “cradle-grave” big government message, reinforcing the victimhood meme, and framing the “Republicans-are-racist” narrative.
This is exactly the problem with the “we need to become more diverse” form of political organizing. It leads to replacing the ideals of freedom with notions of multiculturalism. And becoming more “inclusive” by catering to as many groups as possible leads to pandering. This is the reason the Liberal-Progressive-Democratic Party has more diversity than the GOP does. The Democrats unashamedly pander to minorities through “identity politics” by exploiting their disadvantages and the injustices they have experienced. Seeking diversity as the primary goal of a party leads demanding “equality of outcome” instead of “equality of opportunity” by favoring one group over another usually defined as the “haves” and the “have nots”.
What is needed is not pandering to minorities and discrimination against the so-called “privileged” but a radical, laser-sharp focus on complete and unfettered freedom of opportunity – which not only includes the freedom to succeed but also the freedom to fail. What is needed is a message of personal responsibility rather than the demeaning and paralyzing narrative of victimhood. And a message that includes a full-throated rejection of favors to prosperous individuals, companies, and industries in the form of exemptions, loopholes, subsidies, and regulations.
Diversity, multiculturalism, inclusion, political correctness are all concepts that have come to dominate America’s cultural and political landscape. Diversity has become the cardinal American virtue. As long as diversity is embraced and promoted nothing else matters. The idea of diversity has become more important than the values of freedom, justice (vs. “social justice”), equality (of opportunity vs. outcome), faith, love, ethics, and personal responsibility.
The message of freedom and liberty, personal responsibility, equality of opportunity and justice before the law must be restored. And the notion of diversity must be ignored! It is not the issue.
This was the incredibly effective message of Rand Paul’s father, Ron Paul. Ron never pandered. His message was the same wherever he went and to whomever he was speaking. He didn’t talk about making the liberty movement more diverse because he didn’t have to – it was diverse as an natural result of the message of liberty. When people of any gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual preference hear and understand what true freedom and liberty are all about they respond in droves.
I agree with Rand Paul, conservatives need to reach out to all people no matter their identity. But it is critical how we do it. We don’t need to pander or preach victimhood. We need to keep our focus on the basic American principles of liberty: freedom, liberty, the rule of law, God-given rights, and equality of opportunity and justice.
Unfurl and raise these values to the top of the pole. Let them ring across the land and practice them in our lives, our communities, and our laws. We won’t be defined by inclusion or exclusion because that won’t be the issue. The issue will be the freedom of each and everyone of us to live our lives as each of us see fit without inference from others who think they know best for us -regardless of gender, ethnicity, race, creed or color.
I welcome your comments. What do you think about diversity in the modern political scene?