Currently serving his second term as Prime Minister of Iraq, Nouri Kamil Mohammed Hasan al-Maliki took office leading his Shiite Muslim-dominated Dawa Party in 2006. His rise to prominence began as a political dissenter protesting the policies and tactics of Saddam Hussein's dictatorial regime in the late 1970s and sored after he was forced to flee a death sentence to live in exile for 24 years. While abroad, he became the principal leader of the Dawa opposition, while cultivating relationships with Iranian and Syrian officials for assistance in toppling Saddam and his Sunni Muslim-controlled Ba'ath Party.
Since ascending to the chief position of Prime Minister, al-Maliki has crafted a nearly exclusively Shiite-dominated administration, which has had the effect of marginalizing and stoking dissent and creating an ever-increasing insurgency among the Sunni Muslim and Kurdish minorities. In recent weeks, a virtual civil war has broken out across the country, particularly in the northern and western regions of Iraq, led by the Sunni-controlled Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an offshoot of Al Qaeda.
Numerous observers and actors alike in the conflict blame al-Maliki's refusal to form a coalition government, composed of multiple sectors and factions within the country, for the ongoing existential crisis.
The Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the chief Shia religious figure in Iraq, said that political parties must establish a government "that enjoys broad national acceptance [and] that reverses past mistakes," a not-so-subtle reference to al-Maliki's unwavering sectarianism.
Jay Carney, White House Press Secretary weighed in: "There's no question that not enough has been done by the government, including the prime minister, to govern inclusively, and that that has contributed to the situation and the crisis that we have today in Iraq." He hoped the people of Iraq will "impress upon [their leaders] the absolute necessity of rejecting sectarian governance."
By comparison, the Republican Party in the U.S. seems to follow a similar failed restrictive and divisive sectarian partisan approach as does the al-Maliki government.
Multiculturalism and the Republican Party
I went to the Iowa State website and...I typed in "multicultural," and it came back to me, at the time, 59 different multicultural groups listed to operate on campus at Iowa State. It started with Asians and it ended with Zeitgeist, so from A to Z, and most of them were victims' groups, victimology, people that feel sorry for themselves, and they're out there recruiting our young people to be part of the group that feels sorry for themselves. (Rep. Steve King, R-IA)
There's only one race here, it's the American race. And the only way you accomplish that is through assimilation. That is what our immigration laws are designed to promote, and that is precisely what illegal immigration undermines. (Rep. Tom McClintock, R-CA)
Regardless how Representatives King and McClintock distort the concept and the reality of multiculturalism, the United States embodies one of the most diverse nations on this planet. Multiculturalism represents the valuing of diversity in terms of customs and cultures, ways of knowing, and ways of viewing the world, where the nation works for the true attainment of "cultural pluralism," a term coined by the Jewish immigrant and sociologist of Polish and Latvian heritage, Horace Kallen, to challenge the image of the so-called "melting pot," which he considered inherently undemocratic. Kallen envisioned a United States in the image of a great symphony orchestra, not sounding in unison (the mythical "melting pot"), but rather, one in which all the disparate cultures play in harmony and retain their unique and distinctive tones and timbres.
In 2012, President Barack Obama won a second term as President of the United States collecting 332 to former Governor Willard Mitt Romney's 206 Electoral College votes, while garnering 62,157,012 votes to Ramney's 58,805,092. In fact, the Republican Party has only carried the popular vote in presidential elections twice, 1988 and 2004, in the last 24 years.
Though Romney pulled in nearly 60 percent of the white vote, a voting demographic that has steadily declined relative to the overall electorate since 1992, fully 45 percent of President Obama's total came from minoritized communities carrying 93 percent of African Americans, 73 percent of Asian Americans, and 71 percent of Latino/as. In addition, since the election year of 1964, more women than men have voted, and President Obama garnered 55 percent of the women's vote this time around. Young people between the ages of 18 to 29 made up nearly one-fifth of the total votes cast in this election, with Obama carrying 60 percent to Romney's 38 percent.
Since their recent defeat, GOP political leaders, including Republican National Committee Chair, Reince Priebus, have licked their wounds. Some are now asserting that the Party must reach out to diverse cultural and social groups and place new faces at the forefront to ensure the Party does not land on the endangered species list. Names like Cuban American U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Indian American Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA) have surfaced as possible candidates to attract additional demographic groups, traditional Democratic Party constituencies, into their currently small and restrictive tent.
For the Republicans to have any future, however, they are fooling themselves if they think that by merely presenting diverse faces or changing their rhetoric alone will lead them to victory. To remain viable, the GOP must articulate a diversity of thought and a diversity of policies to give people something to vote for, something to embrace, something that makes peoples' lives better, rather than rehashing the failed policies of the past. They must let go of their nostalgia for the "good ol' days" of Ronald Reagan, which were in actuality not so great, and enter the current political era.
The late Dr. Derrick Bell of New York University Law School advanced the theory of "interest convergence," meaning that white people will support racial justice only when they understand and see something in it for themselves, when there is a "convergence" between the interests of white people and racial justice. Bell asserted that the Supreme Court ended the longstanding policy in 1954 of "separate but equal" in Brown v. Board of Education because it wanted to present to the world, and in particular, to the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War, a United States that supported civil and human rights.
So, when the Republican Party realizes its interests to follow the expressed wishes of the majority of the electorate, maybe then the GOP will join with the Democrats to craft and pass comprehensive and compassionate immigration reform; maintain and strengthen legislation to guarantee affordable universal health care; secure Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, unemployment insurance; restore and expand the food stamps program; expand free and reduced school lunch programs and improve food quality in these programs, and ensure other vital safety nets; eliminate the pay equity gap between men and women in the workplace, and pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA); end and reverse all current and past attempts at voter suppression of minoritized groups, young people, elders, and working class voters; ensure reproductive freedoms for all women; work for marriage equality at the national and local levels; support bullying prevention campaigns; increase national funding for public schools; help to reduce costs and expand opportunities for people to attend college and enroll in job training programs, and enlarge government guaranteed grants and loan options at lower interest rates; initiate and maintain equitable tax policy where the rich and super rich pay their fair share; restore and expand the Voting Rights Act; reverse the provisions imposed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the "Citizens United" case, and place equitable restrictions on campaign contributions and financing; pass a jobs bill that puts people back to work to repair our ageing and crumbling infrastructure; tighten regulations on Wall Street and our banking systems to limit the risks of future meltdowns; increase environmental anti-pollution standards, invest significantly more in renewable and clean energy research and sources, and work vigorously to eliminate the nation's use of fossil fuels; increase funding for military veterans' health programs and for U.S. embassy security; ensure the "strict wall of separation" between religion and government; and the list goes on.
If the Republican Party does not provide leadership and vision to attract an increasingly diverse electorate, and join in legislative coalitions, it will ultimately go the way of the dinosaurs, Edsel automobiles, Kodak cameras, and numerous political parties, including the U.S. Whigs, the Know-Nothings, and inevitably al-Maliki's Prime Ministry, and enter oblivion.