The impetus for my invitation is the speech recently given in Philadelphia by President Biden on the topic “The Soul of the Nation” and two criticisms of that speech, one by a Biden supporter and one by a non-supporter.
Biden’s speech was a blistering criticism of those he views as extreme MAGA Republicans; while acknowledging that there are many Republicans who do not fit into this category. In strong language, he stated his view that these extreme MAGA Republicans are a severe threat to Democracy in America.
Van Jones, a Biden supporter, said that Biden’s criticism of MAGA Republicans was appropriate, but he wishes (in my words) that Biden had extended an invitation to MAGA Republicans to talk about their disagreements with him in a quest for greater unity.
A politician or political pundit interviewed on Fox News (I regret that I didn’t catch his name) said that Biden’s speech proved that he was the “Divider-in-Chief” not the “Uniter-in Chief” that he claims to be.
I believe there is an element of truth in both of these criticisms. I wish that President Biden had extended an invitation to MAGA Republicans to have a respectful conversation about the future of Democracy in America. Since Biden did not do that, I will now do it, starting with my ideal as to what such a conversation should entail.
As a registered Democrat, I hold to certain beliefs about the future of Democracy in America. The reasons I have for my beliefs are deeply informed by “who I am,” which includes elements of my personal biography (my life-story) and aspects of what sociologists call my “social location,” such as my gender, race, ethnicity and my socio-economic status. As a unique person, I may see things about the “truth” of the matter being discussed (the future of Democracy in America) that a MAGA Republican misses.
Likewise, a MAGA Republican is a unique person, whose beliefs about the future of Democracy in America is deeply informed by who he/he is (his/her personal biography and social location). As a unique person, she may see things about the ‘truth” regarding the future of Democracy in America that I miss.
Therefore, we need to create a safe and welcoming space for us to “compare notes,” helping each other to adequately understand each other’s position and our reasons for holding to our respective positions, in the hope that our conversation may help us to uncover some common ground that contains a more full-orbed understanding of the “truth.”
That hope appears to be a “wild dream” that flies in the face of the rampant tribalism in our culture: an us-versus-them mentality that holds that me and my people (e.g., my political party) possess the whole truth about the future of Democracy, and “those other folks” (e.g., that other political party or the MAGA wing of that party) possess none of the “truth.”
As unrealistic as this sounds, that is the substance of my invitation to MAGA Republicans.
Now, I suspect that MAGA Republicans do not read my website, and, therefore this invitation will not even be received by members of that wing of the Republican party. Therefore, I ask a favor of those who read my website. If you know persons who are MAGA Republicans, please forward this invitation to them, asking them to reply to me directly (at firstname.lastname@example.org) about their interest in participating in the type of conversation I have just described, If enough interest is expressed, I will design an electronic conversation (eCircle) on my website on the topic “The Future of Democracy in America” that will include a balance of MAGA Republicans and those who do not accept the position of MAGA Republicans.
I close with a commentary on the criticism from the Fox News interviewee noted above; that Biden has become a “Divider-in-Chief,” rather than a “Uniter-in-Chief.” That criticism is hollow if MAGA Republicans will not accept an invitation, like mine, to create a safe and welcoming space to hold the type of conversation I propose.
For readers of my website who are aware of my commitment to the Christian faith, I repeat what I never tire of saying: To create a safe and welcoming space for someone who disagrees with you to express that disagreement, and to then talk respectfully to each other about that disagreement is a deep expression of love, to which Jesus calls all those who aspire to be his followers.