Content of Their Character: A Republican Q & A on the Topic of Race

Have you personally experienced racial bigotry? If so, what form has it taken?

Certainly, people react to appearance with presumptions and bias. A store clerk may treat us differently based on their assumptions about who we are.

Of course, that works the other way too. Others of similar racial background may presume that we have things in common which we do not, based on nothing but skin color and physical appearance.

In my case, being biracial and growing up in a predominately white community, I have taken on the culture in which I was raised. It's an imperfect analogy but, with The Jungle Book out in theaters, it's like Mowgli being raised by wolves. If you're raised by wolves for long enough, eventually they come to regard you as a wolf and you regard yourself as a wolf, even though you're really a man-cub. In a similar sense, I am culturally Caucasian but physically regarded as black. So, on the one hand, I get the presumptions from whites about how my blackness defines me. But I also get that from other blacks.

I'll be walking down the street and see a black guy, and he'll toss me a nod and shout out a "what's up, brother." My response is to look at him and think, "What. Is. Up? I honestly don't know." He's assuming this shared cultural experience that I haven't actually had. That's just as much prejudicial as when the bias comes from whites.

Which party, Republican or Democrat, does a better job addressing the actual needs of minority groups?

They both fail, albeit for opposite reasons. As aforementioned, Democrats tend to elevate intention to the exclusion of outcome. Conversely, Republicans do a great job focusing on outcome, but harbor little to no authentic intention.

(At this point the professor drew an illustration of overlapping circles, suggesting that each party had a piece of the necessary solutions, if only they could come together.)

That's absolutely true. Among activists and operatives, there is a small group from each party that understands the bipartisan nature of the legislative process. But acknowledging that nature to either party's base is political suicide.

There's this narrative that both parties forward among their stakeholders that, in order to get anything done, you must first win legislative majorities, win the executive, then stack the judicial branch with friendly justices. Essentially, the narrative is that you must have complete one-party dominance to advance your agenda. But that's ridiculous. First of all, it almost never happens. Rarely is one party in control of any given level of government. When it does happen, it usually doesn't last for long. More importantly, lasting policy requires buy-in from across the political spectrum. Recent overreach like Obamacare notwithstanding, most large shifts in public policy earn support from both parties before getting signed into law.

Among the problems is the fact that neither party wants the other to get any credit for solving anything. So even when there's a viable solution on the table, if it can't be used to advance political campaigns, it probably won't get much traction.