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Miami: Building an Inclusive Republic
As our nation faces significant challenges in creating opportunities for equitable growth and rebuilding trust in institutions, there is one place we can look to find guidance in our solutions – the values that underpin our democracy.
The United States was the first political community in human history that was founded and designed in a deliberative way. Until 1787, every political community resulted from force and accident rather than reflection and choice. The choice that Americans made in 1776 to rebel against Britain and, then in 1789, to ratify the Constitution were made in the name of fundamental values – the freedom and equality of all human beings as bearers of rights, including the rights of self-rule and conscience.
A governing body based on rights in turn requires contributions from its citizens, such as a desire to see and to treat other citizens as equals, a willingness to work and take responsibility for oneself, and a vigilant appreciation of constitutional restraints on the democratic will. America succeeds when it makes its fundamental values powerful and vivid and fails when it neglects and betrays its own values.
Miami is a unique laboratory for democracy in that it is the only major American city founded by a woman, Mary Brickell. Miami’s history, like that of the founding of our republic, is interwoven with individuals and communities who have overcome extreme adversity to survive and thrive. Miami was built through the resilience of those who endured Jim Crow, exiles of the Castro regime, the descendants of US doughboys, survivors of the Holocaust, and thousands who hail from communities from across the Caribbean, the Americas and around the world.
In a 2018 report, Florida International University’s Miami Urban Future Initiative (MUFI) found that 40.5 percent of residents are foreign-born, and 77 percent of Miamian’s speak a language other than English at home. Miami is at once both the #1 ranked city for startup activity as per the Kauffman Foundation and also a place where according to a recent 2018, MUFI reported the richest 1 percent of residents in Miami took home forty-five times as much as the rest of the metro’s residents.
Miami is at the nexus of a region that continues to contend with significant anti-democratic forces, such as the regimes of Cuba and Venezuela. Meditating on the power of an inclusive republic is a timely endeavor for our community, especially as we see what direct existential threats to freedom can look like. With Miami’s spirit of collaboration, we have an opportunity to reacquaint our community with the fundamental principles and founding documents that animate our history and ideals as a free Republic.
It is for this reason, we are excited that Florida International University is partnering with the Aspen Institute Socrates Program and WeWork to host an Inclusive Republic Summit. The summit will be held Friday, May 17 at the WeWork Security Building in Downtown Miami. Community members, civic leaders, and students are all invited to attend.
There could be no better place than Miami for a conversation about America and what it means to be part of an inclusive republic. Many of our residents resemble Alexander Hamilton, the famous founding father, who’s legacy as an immigrant from the Caribbean is memorialized in the Broadway musical “Hamilton.”
As we think of the newly arrived immigrant from Caracas, we hear the same refrain Hamilton sings as he lands on America’s shores, “My name is Alexander Hamilton. And there’s a million things I haven’t done…..But just you wait….just you wait.”
On May 17 at the Inclusive Republic Summit we won’t have to wait. We will discuss how we can build the inclusive republic that Alexander Hamilton, founding father and Caribbean immigrant, dreamt of.
To register for the summit, click here.
Cordell Carter, executive director of the Aspen Institute Socrates Program, co-wrote this piece with Saif Ishoof.