For years, we’ve heard Republicans talk about “real Americans.” It’s code for white, rural and, usually, working class. We’ll see photos of people in trucks or with guns, usually with patriotic symbols like flags or eagles easily visible. Think a Chevy commercial for politics. It’s not really what America is like today or ever was.
The America of the 21st century was on display last night in the Democratic National Convention roll call. As representatives from states across the nation read the delegate count in nominating Joe Biden, we saw the diversity of the country. Native Americans, African Americans, White Americans, Asian Americans, and immigrants represented the story of our country. They or their ancestors came here for a variety of reasons but they all reflect the hope for a better life under a government that embraces freedom and democracy.
We’ve reached a point where the two party system is made up of a white people’s party and a party that reflects the diversity of America. The GOP now stands for a time gone by. White America is no longer a dominant culture. The driver of new ideas and evolving values is a multicultural country that reflects the experiences both of immigrants and people oppressed for centuries right here in a nation founded on ideals of equality and justice.
In North Carolina, Cozzie Watkins, an older African American woman from Mecklenburg County, announced our delegates and became an overnight sensation. Watkins spoke truth. She noted that African American women have been the backbone of the Democratic Party and their work and turnout will make the difference in the 2020 election. If Black voters turnout at the same rate as White voters, then the state will likely go blue. The last time that happened, Barack Obama won the state, Kay Hagan was elected to the U.S. Senate, and Bev Perdue became first female governor in state history.
We still have a long way to go before women and people of color make up the same percentage of elected officials as they do the general population but when we reach that point, it will be because the Democratic Party welcomed diversity of cultures and thought. The GOP is hanging onto values and principles that served White Americans well, but denied access to opportunity to others.
Last night, watching the roll call, I was proud to be a Democrat.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >