One America? Political Leadership, National Identity, and the Dilemmas of Diversity

One America? Political Leadership, National Identity, and the Dilemmas of Diversity

One America? Political Leadership, National Identity, and the Dilemmas of Diversity

One America? Political Leadership, National Identity, and the Dilemmas of Diversity

Synopsis

With huge numbers of new immigrants, America is becoming more diverse racially, culturally, & ethnically. This book examines what it means to be American & the role of national political leaders in maintaining or dissipating its national identity.

Excerpt

Fueled in part by enormous and, in this century, unprecedented numbers of new immigrants, the United States is becoming dramatically more diverse—racially, ethnically, and culturally. As a result, this country now faces a number of political and cultural questions with the most profound consequences for its future. What does it mean to be an American? Is there developing a “new American identity,” and if so, what is it?

At the same time, the stability of American national culture has been challenged in recent decades by an assertive expansion of individual and group rights, acerbic debates regarding the legitimacy and limits of these claims, and a preference on the part of national political leaders to finesse rather than engage these controversies. Advocates of diversity have given more attention to expanding their claims than to the requirements necessary to build a consensus that would support and sustain them. Critics of diversity have yet to explain how to accommodate the promise and reality of diversity satisfactorily without recourse to traditional forms of uniformity.

Many of the basic cultural and political frameworks on which this country was founded, and from which it developed, have become matters of intense, often angry, debate. in a country built on the ideal of merit and driven by the imperative of opportunity, how do we encourage individualism even as we attempt to recover a deeper sense of community? What is fair? Is it possible to be simultaneously a fully engaged American citizen and a citizen of another country as well? With a citizenry characterized by enormous diversity, what, if anything, binds Americans together? Are we U.S. citizens first or primarily members of our own racial, ethnic, gender, class, and religious groups?

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