The cultural face of America today is not what it was a half-century ago. No longer would anyone give a serious thought to forcing a Black man to sit at the back or a bus, or turn him away from a lunch counter.

The continuing and growing impact of minorities in this nation – of how they are and have been treated by the Caucasian public in general and by the two major political parties specifically – is food for serious thought by those who look to shape the future of America.

That shaping is happening right now.  The USA has a president with Black roots. Hispanics are serving in high office – consider Florida’s own U.S. Senator Marco Rubio.  And women have served in positions as high as secretary of state.

Traditionally, minorities seem drawn to Democratic ranks, though even that is changing.  David Wasserman, an election analyst for the non-partisan Cook Political Report, cites the rise of women and minorities in the Democratic Party, but that, he notes, is accompanied by so-called “white flight” by former party faithful.

Democrats have always stood for “inclusion” while Republicans appear stand-offish.

In a nutshell, the Republican Party seems to offer little enticement to Blacks and Hispanics.  The GOP is still seen as a basically white-only organization. (Dr. Condoleezza Rice is a glaring exception.)

On a national level, Democrats do a better job of appealing to women and minority voters because this segment of the electorate sees themselves reflected in the party mirror.

But in the U.S. House, the party is increasingly anchored in urban and suburban areas based on how congressional districts are drawn, ceding almost all of rural America to the GOP and raising doubts about Democrats’ ability to win a House majority when they are so geographically restricted.

Political correctness almost demands a conciliatory attitude toward minorities from both parties. Republicans choke on political correctness, and they don’t “play well” with minorities. Also, during the 2012 campaign, the GOP has been accused of igniting a “War on Women,” as if to exclude that so-called “minority” from its ranks.

The broader appeal of the Democratic Party to women and minorities is good news for President Barack Obama in his quest for re-election because they represent two-thirds of his coalition. (The other major bloc is young voters). For Republicans, their congressional districts are generally drawn for white lawmakers, representing white constituencies, self-restricting the level of diversity in their districts and the lawmakers that represent those districts.

So, while Republicans may have used the 2012 redistricting process to solidify their grip on a number of previously more competitive districts that helps them hold their current House majority, the lack of diversity in the GOP makes it increasingly harder to win on a national level.

The bottom line is this: African-Americans, Hispanics and others not of the Caucasian race currently make up 20 to 30 percent of the population. But if Obama can count on that group to give him a third of his total ballots in November, how difficult could it be to tally another 20 percent or so from the rest of the party and win re-election?

This brings us to another group – not necessarily a minority, but definitely an endangered species – the middle class. This year, that segment has been slammed with soaring gasoline prices, high food and energy costs and the horrific impact of the housing market downturn. Add to that 23 million jobless and underemployed – most of them middle classers — and you have a voting bloc that’s angry, frustrated and in desperate search for the truth.

Unfortunately, neither party has delivered absolute truth. Republican and Democrat candidates seem bent on destroying each other while forgetting to throw life preservers to the sinking middle class.

Democrats – traditionally the party associated with higher taxes – are trying to throw that yoke to the GOP. At the same time, President Obama is sidestepping his dismal performance in office to focus on non-issues such as the killing of Osama bin Laden and Mitt Romney’s failure to release his tax records.

Both parties’ promises to buttress the floundering middle class leave ordinary folk baffled and unclear about the future.  Worse, it sets the stage for class warfare between the rich and the less-than-rich — the ones enduring the slings and arrows of outrageous politics – inundated with half-truths and uncertainty that can only ignite envy and jealousy toward the wealthy.

Right now, America is under attack throughout the Middle East.  Democrats seem unconcerned about these radical terrorists as well as class warfare at home.  So, in the end, it is up to Republicans to pay attention to the needs of the middle class, and stem the likelihood that fighting in the streets of the USA won’t follow the anti-US fighting in dozens of nations around the world.


Carlo Barbieri