September 5, 2012


A new America, where opinion seems to matter more than race or identity (HAVIV RETTIG GUR, September 4, 2012, Times of Israel)

In choosing their own unconventional ticket, the Republicans were in lock-step with the overwhelming trend in American politics. In a country with a long, dark past of racism and identity politics, diversity is now so ordinary, so expected, that it goes almost unnoticed even in the most conservative circles.

Thus, we are witnessing an American presidential election in which an African American incumbent is facing a Mormon challenger. Both have Catholic vice-presidential picks. And the only Protestant on either presidential ticket is the African American.

Even among the Republican base, opinion seems to matter more than race or identity, evidenced by the fact that Herman Cain, the African American former head of a large chain of pizza restaurants, led in the polls for several weeks. At the convention, Condoleezza Rice's speech, which touched on Jim Crow segregation laws and other parts of America's dark past of racism, was one of the best received by the crowd of thousands of state party delegates, perhaps second only to VP pick Paul Ryan.

The invocation was even delivered by an Orthodox rabbi, Yeshiva University's Rabbi Meir Soloveichik.

This diversity extends beyond presidential politics, to the House and Senate and state politics throughout the country. With the retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens in 2010, even the US Supreme Court, the country's most staid and stable institution, is without a Protestant for the first time in history. Instead, it has three Jews and six Catholics from a variety of ethnic backgrounds.

In this contentious election year, you may not hear this from Americans. But for outside observers one thing is clear. Irrespective of who wins in November, the conservative Mormon or the liberal African American, it's a new America, one so comfortable with its diversity that it is barely conscious of it.

Posted by at September 5, 2012 4:50 PM

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