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The origin and ancestry of individuals has been a subject of great debate for many years; human kind has many historic tales as to why they are different in various aspects. These different aspects have clearly played out in most of the issues that society initiates. Historically, there have been many fights against racism where people would be judged by the color of their skin; this has however had numerous developments that aim to equalize all human beings. This paper discusses the issue of ethnicity and its role in politics especially in the America context. It clearly defines ethnicity and the dimensions that it has and its effect of major political decision in the public and political scenes.
Ethnicity involves any dimensions since it take account of issues such as ancestry, race, religion identity, language. In addition, it may comprise of culture, beliefs, customs, practices and arts that are characteristic of a different population group. These population groups in turn define the person’s identity; for instance, being a white, Latin American, Arab, Chinese, Korean, Asian, Black, Japanese, or Filipino describes the ethnic group of an individual. However, ethnicity is dynamic and may be affected by certain population factors such as migration, intermarriage or blending of the individuals. In case this happens then new identities are likely to be created.
According to The Canadian Board of Social and Economic Statistics, origin or ancestry, identity and race make up the three fundamental aspects of evaluating ethnicity. Origin or ancestry is able to verify the root or background of the individual; however there should always be a historical reference point to make the argument hold. This is in view of the fact that there may be creation of new groups comprising of a mixture of two ethnic groups. Race is also a factor to measure ethnicity but is also stands out as ambiguous without a timeline. Its basis is on genetic features such as skin color (Lopez, 1994).
The four distinct races for human kind include the whites (Caucasians), yellow (oriental), black (Negroid) and red (Indians) (Thernstron, 2008, p.16). This maybe not be an effective measure since there may be varied and inherited factors especially due to intermarriage or genetic modifications. Identity is more of a personal perception rather than focusing on ancestry. One will identify himself more with the country he/she comes from and is a better way to describe ones ethnic status. This will include issues of origin and race; for instance; Black American, white American, or Italian Canadian .
As described by Swatos scholars all have different arguments to the tem ethnicity and there has not been a comprehensive agreed definition; however most agree that it involves origin, race and identity.
America presents a rich ethnic identity and historical stories give the various identities that have been present in the continent. According to history the British settlers had a significant role in the ethnic setting. They had the influence on religion which created a divide among the traditionalists and Protestants. The settlers created a white, protestant, Anglo-Saxon culture; on the other hand the traditionalists (Cavaliers) were steadfast to the church and they had different cultural values. The German settlers also had their impact since they held on to Protestantism, Roman Catholic faith, while others were political die hard who opposed religion.
The different cultural, religious and race differences presents different opinions in the social setting among them the political ideas. This is common in various areas where you will always find a defined political decision made by people of the same culture, race, or religion. For instance, a stand against abortion by the Roman Catholic has always been declared by the leaders; this can shape the decision of the followers who will have similar opinions (Brandeis, 1915).
The above ideas can help answer the question what is Ethnic Politics. People of same ethnic background will have similar language, values, traditions, or religion; these ethnic settings will make them belong to population groups. Whenever the ethnic groups make political decision unanimously or a high percentage agree to it then it will be ethnic politics. The American society has had diverse racial and ethnic groupings and these have continued to be dynamic; however they have transformed society in certain ways.
The society has been defined by the minority and majority; which has been based on either race or ethnicity to determine the social, political and cultural status. Statistics cited by Thernstron, (2008), in the article “The Demography of Racial and Ethnic Groups” shows that in the year 1995 the number of Hispanic was ere the minority; followed by the non white Hispanics, blacks, and Asians respectively. Politics is a game of numbers and those who are able to lure more numbers of the public to their side carry the day; exploiting the differences in the populations and making them move unanimously in decisions will be an effective strategy to make people support a political decision.
Americanism - The Context for Ethnic Identity
The American political culture has been characterized by a way of thinking that is systematic or patterned. This describes how the issues of economy and politics should be carried out. For instance, Americans view the system in terms of equality, liberty, democracy, individual responsibility and civic duty. According Boulware, 2010 the American political culture is different and exceptional from other countries such as France, Spain, Italy, and Britain.
Among issues that show the exceptional American political culture include issues on income inequality, basic income guarantee, taking care of the poor, taxations of the middle income, and freedom of expression. The American society stands out as a democratic society however there are issues that affect decisions to favor the minority groups. The principle of democracy is entrenched in the values of equality, the rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
These aspects are the major issues that shape the American political context since many base their ideas of a modern society as a free (Buchanan, 2000). The society believes that the government is formed to protect the rights of those that elect them. Despite the presences of many ethnic groups in the country and the presence of many immigrants the political arena has had its share of partisan politics. However, the principles that guide the United States are freedom and independence.
Patriotism has been a great show by the American politician to prove their commitment to America. They have been wise to evade the issue of origin, cultures, race and history to in their speeches and political fights. This creates a patriotic nation that does not discriminate on any groups (Buchanan, 2000). The issue of ethnicity in the American politics is never avoidable since it becomes unconsciously a factor when decisions are made. Most decisions are made on equality but do not involve economic equality especially where there are unpopular groups. Most recent can be the recent elections of Barrack Obama who is a Black American; the issue though not public played an unconscious part where the black overwhelmingly vote the president in; however he was still voted by the white Americans. The political culture in America can be difficult to quantify since equality and freedom are major factors but if they apply to various populations groups then it can be depicted as ethnicity.
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