Different Worldviews

The party’s conventions are over, and if there is one thing they showed us, it’s that Democrats and Republicans live in very different realities (as the President noted in his speech, Democrats understand that climate change is not a hoax) and have starkly different approaches to the age-old question: how should we live together?

From the composition of the crowds to the policies offered by the speakers, Americans saw two very different messages. It wasn’t simply that–as the President memorably noted–the GOP’s prescription for everything and anything that ails us is “Take two tax cuts and call me in the morning.” It was the difference between a longing for the past–for an America that only existed, if it existed at all, for a small group of middle-class white guys–and a determination to build a fairer, more inclusive, more stable future.

That difference in focus goes a long way toward explaining why the GOP has so much more party discipline than the Democrats do. When you are focused on defeating the other guys because you believe that will magically reinstate a time when women knew their place, gays were hiding in the closet where they belonged, immigrants picked the crops and then went home (or at least stayed out of sight), and black people did not occupy statehouses and most definitely did not live in the White House, the goal is clear and cohesion around that goal relatively easy.

When you are trying to cope with real problems, trying to come to agreement about the future you are trying to build, rather than focusing solely on the man and party you are trying to defeat, the conversation is different. There are many more areas of disagreement–where, precisely, do we want to go? What are the policies most likely to get us there?

Despite the Tea Party’s insistence that Obama is a socialist, what was striking about the rhetoric coming from the Democratic convention was its full-throated endorsement of market economics, of the meritocratic vision that used to be a Republican vision before the party was captured by its anti-rationalist extreme. That affirmation of an economics that rewards hard work and innovation differed from the  exaltation of wealth we saw at the Republican convention, however, because it was situated in a larger concept of citizenship and mutual obligation.

The President said it clearly.  “We also believe in something called citizenship – a word at the very heart of our founding, at the very essence of our democracy; the idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another, and to future generations.”

In November, we’ll see which worldview American voters endorse.


  1. Again, constantly pushing this Manichean mindset where you strive to paint Republicans as racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, etc. (and wonder why they won’t “compromise” lol) does more harm to the cause you’re claiming to support than good. Oh, and I forgot anti-Semitic.

  2. Lies, obfuscation and misleading the public to steer them away from the real problems in this country, seems to be the platform of the GOP. It has been said but needs to be repeated; the Republican party of today is NOT the Republican party of a few years ago. It is certainly not the Republican party of Mayor Hudnut who recognized and rewarded women, blacks, Jews, gays, the few Hispanics on the scene, with jobs they qualified for and deserved to have. I proudly worked for and suppoted this man who not only brought this city to life but who cleaned out nepotism, favoritism, political patronage, anti-Semitism, chauvinism and cronyism from City government. Just as Princess Di was considered the Princess of the people, I have always considered Mayor Hudnut the Mayor of the people of Indianapolis. And, OMG, he was a Republican!

  3. My newly sworn-in American citizen husband and I are BOTH voting for President Obama. My husband has an MBA so I know he understands politics as much as the Americans that read this blog. He knows which party serves the people in this country.

  4. Yes. The contrast is clear, and the goals are clear as well. I am distrought because so many people seem to be demonstrating a selfishness that is detrimental to the continuation of a nation, much less a culture. Many seem to have forgotten the idea of citizenship or the development of what Adam Smith would have called a civil society. Either that, or they are being swayed by not-so-very subtle pressures to vote in ways that are in contradiction to their best and most noble instincts.

  5. Congratulations to the new American citizen! Bob is right, though. Selfishness breeds more selfishness. We should now take absolutely nothing for granted come November. This is no lead-pipe cinch, make no mistake about that. “They” will unleash their extremely wealthy dogs in an attempt to do it strictly with money. There can be no other reason to vote for the r’s, as seen in the two conventions. President Clinton said it best with a demonstration: Thumb and first finger joined and the other fingers open, representing “zero”. The r’s have absolutely zero to offer this country or the world, for that matter. American citizens must arise, do the right thing, and vote for President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden for a second term!

  6. Senator Richard Lugar was targeted by the GOP for his reasonable views and willingness to work with Democrats when necessary to get things done. That pretty much tells anyone all they need to know about today’s Republican party.

  7. I heard Obama evoke “citizenship” and my first thought was “Sheila Kennedy will be so pleased.” 🙂

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