In the world of engineering, we frequently talk about the notion of the “over-damped response”. In lay terms, this is the concept of overcompensating for steering too far in one direction by over-steering beyond the desirable point in the opposite direction.
For my generation, the emphasis on affirmative action has always felt like an over-damped response.
I can recall when I was a youngster in the 1970s and a bi-racial family moved into my neighborhood. I remember that they had a son my age that had mostly Caucasian features with slightly darker skin. He was a nice fellow, but he didn’t want to be considered as a black person.
Today, we see the opposite position. You see bi-racial actress Halle Berry and the bi-racial candidate for President, Barack Obama strongly referring to themselves as African-Americans. This is very indicative of how far the pendulum has swung. It is now advantageous to have a special identity – skin color, sexual preferences, etc. These provide you with extra considerations, so you jump on-board the identity bandwagon.
Since I am a self-funded businessman, I know only too well that you have to ignore “special identities” and focus on performance. For example, when hiring employees, you concentrate on the candidate’s character. Thus, I tell my colleagues: “we’ll always hire the best person available. It doesn’t matter if the candidate is a Leftist, handicapped, Hispanic, lesbian, with a lisp. If she is a great engineer and she can crank out software, she’s hired.”
If I’m not mistaken, there was a famous quote that talked about focusing on the “content of one’s character instead of the color of one’s skin”. Our identity politics has relegated this concept to the junk heap.
In the first half of the 20th century, American citizens felt they needed Government management. Roosevelt had public works projects with three letter acronyms to address every need. In the second half of last century, the American public felt that capitalism was our path to prosperity. Our country organized itself to reward innovation and hard work.
I may just be a product of my generation, but I’m not a proponent of the European-style nanny state. I don’t view France and its progress over the last 50 years as the model for our country to emulate. Yet, it appears that there are now many citizens in the United States that yearn for some great entity to take care of them.
Are we at another “inflection point” in the direction of our country with an impact that can last for decades? Have the demographics of our country changed? Can we simply divide the voting parties of our country into those who want to produce versus those who want to receive?
I just so happen to be the same age as Barack Obama. Thus, you can probably say that my life-timeline should parallel his experiences. However, it’s important to note that he represents a worldview that is very contrary to mine. All evidence indicates that his candidacy is based on the politics of special identities and classism.
Many pundits claim that if Obama is not elected President, it will be the result of racism.
My corollary says that if Obama is elected President, it will be the result of special identities and classism.