How The Other Half Thinks

In 1890, Jacob Riis published “How The Other Half Lives: How It Lives And Dies In New York”. The book documented with pictures and accounts of the poor in New York City. In 1962 Michael Harrington published “The Other America” and documented poverty in America and was said to be highly regarded by President John Kennedy and may have directly affected President Lyndon Johnson’s War On Poverty.

In both examples, the plight of the poor was brought to the attention of an America busy with emerging, an America becoming a world industrial leader and a military power.

It is the concept of “The Other” that intrigues me.

Whether The Other is people of other cultures, other nations, other religions, or closer to home, other political viewpoints, it would be wise to consider The Other.

I am a Democrat and voted for Hillary Clinton.

Like most Democrats, there were things I disagreed with Candidate Clinton and even one or two things I agreed with President Trump. The trouble is that at no time during the election process or since have I considered how other people thought about the candidates.

I know most of the reasons why Democrats favored Clinton over Trump, and I think I know why some Trump supporters voted for Trump. But I think it is too convenient to state that many voted for Trump because they didn’t like Hillary.

It’s also too easy to believe that people who voted for Trump are “Deplorable” or racists or Russian sympathizers.

We all know about pendulums and how they react to energy. If too much energy is applied in one direction, the natural reaction is to swing back, almost as forcefully in the other direction.

Democrats are seen as the Party of the partial-birth abortion, gay marriage, and rights for the LBGTQ community. You may agree with some of these positions or none.

Add Affirmative Action and Immigration Rights, and you further divide people.

But why?

One of the things that I have seen several times infuriates me and illuminates me at the same time. There is a Democratic operative who has appeared on MSNBC several times, and I always change the channel when he is on. I will not grant him the notoriety of my disdain by naming him.

He made a commercial, I would hardly call it a public service announcement, in which he proudly affirms that he is an atheist and he does so by denigrating all people of faith.

Another indication that Democrats are stupid and intent on losing the 2020 election.

You may disagree with the evangelicals who support Trump despite the porn star and countless examples of misogyny as well as his anti-Christian comments regarding immigrants. But do so by pointing towards their hypocrisy, not their belief in God.

We know why evangelicals support Trump. They are a one-issue group. Protect the unborn, and they will vote for you. Appoint conservative justices who are likely to repeal Roe v. Wade, and they will forgive all other transgressions.

Then you attack not only the Evangelicals but all those of us who believe in God, and you want my vote? Not a good strategy.

You cannot be a party of inclusion only for atheists.  Believers are members of the immigrant, Gay, and LBGTQ communities. Believers are not all Republicans.

As our atheist spokesman proclaims at the end of his commercial that he will not burn in hell, he might also add that he will not see the inside of the White House either.

I went to a Spring Training game two years ago and sat at a table with a Red Sox fan. We had a nice talk despite our different passions. We were, in fact, able to reach some common ground as, despite living in a suburb of Boston, my new friend was, like me, a fan of the New York Jets.

Common ground should be something we consider, especially when our differences run hot.

I can see why Republicans are scared. Our country is changing. Its population is expanding beyond anything we imagined thirty years ago. Many newcomers come from different countries and cultures than the previous waves of immigrants. If we had any historical knowledge to draw on, we would be comforted that the same concerns many have today were held by Americans when our ancestors stepped off the boat.

Whether from Ireland, Italy, Eastern Europe, or the Far East, Americans of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were afraid of these new immigrants. Ironically, these new immigrants defended America and The Constitution by fighting in both World Wars.

Then you had the sons and daughters of former slaves fighting for their civil rights, and many thought America was coming to an end, but that didn’t happen.

Yet, there are those stuck in moments that seem incapable of being put to rest.

Racism, antisemitism, cultural bias continue to haunt us, but why?

Is it the color of people? Is it the way they worship God? Is it the holidays they celebrate? What is it that people don’t like about the new groups coming to our country and how can we help them get over it?

I used a sports analogy to illustrate the seeming idiocy of being anti-whatever. But there have been extreme examples of violence because a fan dared to wear another teams’s colors to a game. People have been killed for having the audacity to wear the wrong jersey.

It’s not enough to root for your team, you have to hate The Other.

If the Trump administration has done anything, it has illustrated that the political tribalism that has existed since George H Bush was President will destroy America.

E Pluribus Unum used to mean something. Our national motto used to illustrate our strength. Now it may well be our demise.

We need to talk to The Other.

They need to know that we are very much like them and they are very much like us,

Just ask them.

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