Cost of Inclusion
July 26, 2008 in Reading Response
Tags: argument, asian, confidence, cost, courage, cuomo, cynical, democrats, difference, explain, government, governor, inclusion, islander, jerkwads, lesbian, mario, metaphor, pacific, priority, republicans, school, short, sighted, skill, steak, vision
Before I betray my feelings about a particular portion of Mario Cuomo’s keynote to the 1984 Democratic convention, please read it. This passage in particular sticks with me.
It’s an old story. It’s as old as our history. The difference between Democrats and Republicans has always been measured in courage and confidence. The Republicans — The Republicans believe that the wagon train will not make it to the frontier unless some of the old, some of the young, some of the weak are left behind by the side of the trail. “The strong” — “The strong,” they tell us, “will inherit the land.”
We Democrats believe in something else. We Democrats believe that we can make it all the way with the whole family intact, and we have more than once. Ever since Franklin Roosevelt lifted himself from his wheelchair to lift this nation from its knees — wagon train after wagon train — to new frontiers of education, housing, peace; the whole family aboard, constantly reaching out to extend and enlarge that family; lifting them up into the wagon on the way; blacks and Hispanics, and people of every ethnic group, and native Americans — all those struggling to build their families and claim some small share of America.
Cuomo characterizes Democrats with courage and confidence and, by comparison, he characterizes the Republicans as non-inclusionary jerkwads.
The Democrats will lift their fellow neighbor into the wagon of progress, be he black or white, hard-working or lazy. The Republicans expect you to climb in on your own recognizance. The Democrats want to improve the nation by helping individuals to lead better lives, while the Republicans want the improve the nation by letting individuals try. Each side accuses the other of being cynical, and each side praises itself for having faith in America. But the editorial we digresses.
Cuomo praises his party for being inclusionary, but, after a certain point, how much value really exists in being inclusionary? Universities, community colleges and technical schools are already inclusionary, and, once we work out the kinks in the system, every American will be on a level playing field in all the ways that matter.
If, after that level playing field, I find that my steak is rare and I wanted it to be cooked medium, I don’t care whether it was cooked by a white guy or a lesbian Asian-Pacific Islander. It wasn’t cooked correctly, and he-and-or-she had his chance.
In practical matters, and after school is done with, diversity cannot be the end-all and be-all. Yet, even today, Democrats echo that same, tired calling card of pluralism, and they echo it to exclusion.
It’s rather short-sighted for party that claims to have such vision.
Every day, we experience a thousand moments, each of those moments setting in motion a thousand slightly different possibilities in the future. When we make these choices, we are thrust toward another day's crossroads, where we have another thousand choices.
Given the infinite number of choices we make in a lifetime, why do we choose so many of the same routes and make just as many of the same mistakes as our parents and grandparents?
I plan to learn from their mistakes. Let's see how far I get.
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