Last night I attended the Van Jones lecture in Langford, and some of the points about race relations in his speech really stood out to me. Part of his argument was that we have to pay attention to the reason why people vote for certain candidates. We generally see that many middle or lower class white working families vote Republican, while groups consisting of people of color, women, and college-educated young adults vote for Democratic candidates. Jones argued that instead of putting the other side down and assuming that all Trump voters are “racist, sexist, etc”, we must consider why people voted for him. His example was of a group of white workers laid off who received no help from anyone except Trump. Jones listed organizations, such as those working to help women and minorities, who did not even consider helping the white men. So, Jones reasoned, why would the white workers have voted for Hillary Clinton when she did not help them, and Trump had promised to? Essentially, though Jones made it very clear that he is liberal and supports the left, his point was that our hatred for people who vote differently or have differing opinions is being strengthened by how politics works these days and the hateful dialogue that dictates how politicians argue with one another.
One quote of his that I liked was that “we were the smartest in third grade, when we believed in liberty and justice for all”. The Republicans are supposed to represent liberty, while the Democrats are supposed to fight for justice. Throughout his speech, Jones certainly was not advocating conservative views, but he was making the point that politicians today have diverged from fighting for “liberty and justice for all” and instead are focused on bad-mouthing the other side and creating a greater divide between the two political parties. He asked us to be smarter and question both parties and their actions. To me, it can be difficult to not judge people based on who they vote for, because I have a tendency to assume that the voters have the same beliefs as the candidates. However, I have to remember that people may only be voting for a candidate based on one idea, for example that of pro-life or pro-choice. In terms of race relations, I think the divides between the parties would weaken if politicians focused less on their own agendas and somehow found a way to come to agreements constructively that could help a variety of groups around the country.