Democratic Society and Racism
How it works
I think identity would be the most difficult political conflict to resolve because unlike the others, identity is something nobody can change. Your ethnic background, your race or sexual identity is something that is permanent. Identity influences and shapes people, and because we all have different identities this can create conflicts that cannot easily be resolved because the source for that conflict is unchangeable. Power, for example, can change through elections, or in the case of authoritarian regimes there is a possibility to still change it through a revolution.
However, that is not the case with identity.
Identity problems occur everywhere even in countries like the U.S. where basic freedoms are respected. Although in this country we also see division among different groups, I would say that a democracy is the best regime to manage identity as a source of political conflict. The U.S is a country with a population of over 300 million. It is a country that was founded on immigration, and because it is a land of opportunity and freedom, it keeps attracting immigrants from all over the world until this day. This creates a very diverse society with people of all races, ethnicities and religions which might be the ground for identity conflicts.
However, we can see how we Americans can manage our differences in a way that they do not necessarily result in violent wars as it is the case in other parts of the world like Middle Eastern nations, where we can trace all past and current conflicts to identity issues. Because we are a democracy, we have representation in the government for almost all groups. In the U.S government we have African Americans, Hispanics, women, Middle Eastern decedents like Representative Rashida Tlaib whose parents are from Palestine. If there is a group that might feel unrepresented that is something we can change through elections because in a democracy everyone has a voice to defend their interests, and those interests are mainly influenced by one’s identity. In addition, our constitution establishes basic human freedoms like freedom of speech or religion, which in my opinion creates the basis for American values.
It is true that throughout our history we have seen racism and segregation. For example, women were not allowed to vote until 1920, and blacks were not allowed to be in the same places as white Americans. However, that changed, not only the laws changed but people did as well. People became more tolerant and learned how to respect each other’s differences, and I think that democracy, as we know it today, is what has made that change possible. An example could be political conflicts caused by sexual identity. People who were born with a sexual identity that they cannot change felt the need to defend their rights. Because we live in a democracy, those voices were heard, and now gay marriage is legal. If it wasn’t the case I think we will probably be facing bigger political conflict caused by identity.