Maybe I just miss my Fascist friend as he’s traveling in the motherland, in the heart of the wonderous cactus juice, tequila. But the truth is, I’ve learned a thing or two from Thomas Sowell‘s biggest fan. Not about poltics or economics – that’s for me to do the teaching 😉 – but about the cultural differences between liberals and conservatives.

Right now I’m reading the much talked about issue of Time which declared George Bush person of the year. In it is an article by Joe Klein titled The Bennetton-Ad Presidency which celebrates the diversity within Bush’s cabinet. I think this is a good point and one that doesn’t get brought up nearly enough. I recently read an interview with Tavis Smiley of NPR’s popular Tavis Smiley Show. He explained that he will be leaving NPR, in part, because of the many complaints of listeners who don’t like the way he speaks and laughs (like a normal, young black man). Anyway, one of the questions was if Bush’s cabinet or NPR was more diverse and Smiley says hands down it’s Bush’s cabinet.

So, here is a passage from Klein’s article:

In a way, President Bush is the beneficiary of 40 years of Democratic policy – not just affirmitive action, which helped create a broader, deeper pool of successful nonwhite college graduates, but also the Democratic Party’s historic support for civil rights legislation, the femmenist revolution and the easing of strict immigration policies in the 1960’s, policies long opposed by many Republicans. But the Bush Cabinets have also been very much a reflection of who George W. Bush is and always has been.

Now, if HP were to read this, I can already guarantee you it would infuriate him. Because the premise is that minorities succeed because liberals make it easier for them. I think it’s exactly this condescending attitude which is driving so many minorities to the GOP. Because most minorities proudly work themselves through the system without taking any handouts and then read articles like this which completely discount their incredible accheivments as “benefits of Democratic policy.”

But it also puts minorities against minorities because liberals see conservatives like Hispanic Pundit as turning their backs on their own people; holding everyone to their own high standards to make a point. We need to continue progressive social programs to ensure social/economic mobility and integrate our giant melting pot. But we (and I mean specifically Democrats) need to lose this racist idea that minorities succeed because of our policy.

A couple months ago two local grad students and I headed out to Joshua Tree to do some rock climbing. One went to Brown and the other UCSD and they both now go to one of the best Grad Schools in the world, researching things that most rural Republicans have never even heard of. We are all, of course, liberals. It was a crazy day and snow ended up falling as low as the 215 in Riverside. Obviously, we didn’t get any climbing in, but we figured some eggs and hashbrowns at a local diner would be second best.

If one picture could sum up the reason why George Bush was re-elected to the rest of the world, which still can’t comprehend such a thing, it would be a picture of this diner. Wrangler jeans, big belt buckles, friendly, sassy waitresses in white aprons with big hair. This was the heartland. The diner filled up with skinny, old white men who looked like they were leftovers from the 1849 Gold Rush. Native Americans with silky long black hair shuffled in. And so did big families of Mexican Americans, their overweight kids running to the video games like penguins. But they were all Republicans. Guaranteed.

Then there was us. Three White 20-somethings in fleeces and North Face jackets and stylish beanies. As soon as we opened the door our mouths dropped in awe. “Holy shit, this place is amazing,” I said. We couldn’t get enough of it. But then I realized we were completely trivializing a lifestyle that is everything these people have ever known. They were all polite to us despite out geeky enthusiasm, but I’m sure in their heads they were all thinking, damn college liberals. It was my first ever real awareness that there is in fact some truth to the “liberal elite” stereotype and that in small way it even fit me too.

I felt it again … more so … two weekends ago in Cambridge. There was such a stuffy intellectual arrogance in the crisp cool air, that I was sure I looked like the visiting Republican from the South. I was reminded – as I first experienced in Cape Cod three years ago – that despite our common blueness, the East and West coasts each have our distinct brands of liberalism. I would say that West Coast liberalism is much more egalitarian and populist, but really maybe the only difference is that we wear sandles.

Either way, I have definitely learned a thing or two from HP already. And, though he would never admit it, I think he’s widened his perspective too. In fact, the last time we went out for beers before he took off for Mexico, he admitted that he would probably be much more liberal if he didn’t believe in an absolute morality. That recognition is a good start and if I can convince him to do some more traveling, I think we’ll see some changes in perspective over the years at