Identity Politics Gave Us President Trump; More Identity Politics Will Not Make Things Better

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Identity politics cultists created Donald Trump, President-Elect Edition, and from much of their subsequent complaining they haven’t learned a single thing from their mistake

Blogger and polemicist Phil Hendren is in unsparing mood as he takes the identity politics Left to task for their role in provoking the alleged “whitelash” which confounded the opinion polls and made Donald Trump president-elect of the United States last Tuesday.

Hendren’s critique is worth quoting at length, as he writes:

Of course, the political earthquakes have been followed in each case with a sentimental reaction that is both odd and downright scarier than the actual earthquake. This has been coupled with a lack of self-awareness by the losing side.

Be it Brexit or Trump we’ve seen knee-jerk reactions that ponder upon whether democracy is such a great idea after all. Amazingly we have idiots screaming about fascism whilst simultaneously suggesting that something be done about the pesky plebs that voted one way or the other.

They moan about bigotry whilst suggesting that the franchise be removed from certain people who are not suitably intelligent or are too old to be trusted with a vote - call me old-fashioned but that is bigotry right there.

You listen to analysts who say they are “just reporting the data” that tell you Trump scored well with “white males without a college degree”. Has there ever been a more obvious coded dog whistle for “stupid white trash”?

The same thing happened in Britain after the Brexit vote. People started arguing that it was those with less education that voted Leave, the implication being that the stupid unenlightened were to blame.

It astounds me that, as the hand-wringing goes on, there persists, even in defeat, a complete and total contempt for some part of the electorate by the chattering class and the elite.

Don’t they get it? Do they really not see that it is precisely that attitude toward the great unwashed that has caused them to lose? Don’t they also realise that they’re witnessing the ultimate end game of their own orthodoxies?

For the past 20 years, the dominant orthodoxy in the West has revolved around the politics of Identity. We’ve been constantly reminded that humanity should be pigeonholed into groups based on race, gender, sexuality or the Other.

The elephant in the room of this orthodoxy has been the marginalisation of the considered dominant social identity, be it so-called ‘cis-gender’ (essentially a pejorative for someone who’s gender identity is in line with their biology) ; heterosexuals; or good old whitey - aka ‘the oppressor’.

Is it any wonder that these groups have reacted by taking on the clothes of Identity Politics themselves? Anyone that claims to be shocked or disgusted by this development is, to put it as bluntly as I can, a fucking idiot.

If you constantly dehumanise people by making them the sum of arbitrary labels, and then you push the view that each of these groups is structurally disadvantaged by the oppressor then you inevitably structurally disadvantage the oppressor who begins to feel, rightly or wrongly, oppressed.

It isn’t fucking rocket science.

The vote for Brexit and the vote for Trump do not represent some sort of uprising of white supremacy, or the normalisation of misogyny and racism. They represent the inevitable consequence of this misanthropic orthodoxy that has infected the chattering class, the Academy and the elites.

Did I vote for Brexit? No, I was a reluctant (and regretful) Remainer. Would I have voted for Trump? Hell no. He’s an illiberal social authoritarian that supports ridiculous left wing protectionism, but I get why people did.

Until the elite and chattering “enlightened” class begin to realise that they’ve created this. That they are to blame for it, these political earthquakes will keep on coming.

My emphasis in bold.

As an anti-Trump conservative watching the reaction to Trump’s election with amazement and concern, I am absolutely stunned by the lack of introspection and self-awareness displayed by much of the Left.

As this blog has already noted, Donald Trump supporters propelled their man to the White House largely by following the proven playbook of the leftist Social Justice Warriors, and they were able to do so because of the pervasive victimhood culture which has been nurtured and aggravated in America by a succession of cynical politicians and activists.

As Hendren rightly notes, if you atomise society into “separate but equal” identity groups based on race, gender or sexuality, you inevitably spark an arms race of perceived oppression and claims of vulnerability which far exceed the actual real oppression which may still exist. Grievance group is pitched against grievance group in the battle of public sympathy, with only one constant – that “cisgender” white men are always portrayed at the top of the Hierarchy of Oppression, always cast as the villains – whether they live in a New York condominium with gold-plated elevators or an Appalachian trailer park on the outskirts of a town being ravaged by crystal meth and heroin addiction.

I’ve warned about this before, in the context of the oppressive climate faced by young conservatives on college campuses, pointing out that it will not be long before those with conservative views tire of being bullied, censored and portrayed as “hateful” by the social justice mob which the tacit consent of spineless university administrators, and begin to use the same language of vulnerability and victimhood to elicit public sympathy for their own plight. Conservatives see other “identity groups” taking this approach and winning their battles to silence criticism and elevate themselves to a privileged, untouchable position on campus, and already we signs of some harried conservatives adopting the same approach.

So it is outside the university campus too, in wider society. Many millions of decent, non-racist and non-sexist people, often (but not exclusively) white, have been told increasingly stridently that questioning open borders or very recent new norms around gender identity and sexuality is tantamount to “hate” – that they are, in fact, bigots. Leftist identity politics cultists have increasingly deployed the nuclear option accusations of racism, sexism and homophobia against anybody who displays the slightest hesitation in embracing their worldview, leaving no way to distinguish and flag genuinely racist, sexist or homophobic opinions or actions when they occur.

And now we face the worst-case scenario, a white working class which sees other minority groups claiming vulnerability and oppression to demand sympathy and claim perks, and which has decided to think of itself as an oppressed minority group too. A very large, very powerful minority group, as it turns out.

We even get an eerily prescient prophecy that this will come to pass in a 2008 essay by Mark Schmitt in Prospect Magazine, written six months prior to the election of Barack Obama in his battle against John McCain.

Schmitt suggests:

That leaves Republicans with a single alternative, one that’s embodied in the slogan of McCain’s first general-election advertisement: “The American President Americans Are Waiting For.” It’s the politics of identity–not necessarily racial or ethnic identity but identity as an American. The blog FiveThirtyEight.com, which has been gathering all sorts of data relevant to the Electoral College vote, recently noted a fascinating demographic fact: About 7 percent of people refuse to answer the Census questions about ethnic origin and instead write in “American.” Those defiant Americans are overwhelmingly found in the states and counties that turned away from the Democratic Party in 2000 and 2004–the Appalachian belt running from West Virginia through Kentucky, Tennessee, and southern Ohio–which are also the counties where Barack Obama has done worst in the primaries.

David Frum calls explicitly for this brand of identity politics, declaring that while the Republican Party’s issue positions have evolved over the years, “there is one thing that has never changed: Republicans have always been the party of American democratic nationhood,” whereas Democrats “attract those who felt themselves in some way marginal to the American experience: … intellectuals, Catholics, Jews, blacks, feminists, gays–people who identify with the ‘pluribus’ in the nation’s motto, ‘e pluribus unum.'” In case it’s not clear, in Frum’s Latin, “pluribus” means “parasites,” and he tells us helpfully, “As the nation weakens, Democrats grow stronger.”

In Frum’s book, this ugly bit of identity politics is carefully nestled within thousands of words about policy. And this is how the code is supposed to work. The GOP’s attack on “liberals” was always an attack on people not quite like “Americans”–secular, cosmopolitan, educated, egalitarian.

[..]

Traditionally, the phrase “identity politics” has referred to the Democratic coalition’s caucuses, interest groups, and competitive claims of wrongs to be righted and rights to be granted. Identity politics on the left, according to this very conventional wisdom, opened the door to an alternative politics of national identity on the right. And yet in 2008, the Democratic presidential nomination battle between an African American and a woman has not exacerbated left identity politics but brought it to a peaceful close. Obama is not Jesse Jackson; Hillary Clinton is not former Rep. Pat Schroeder. He chose to campaign on national reconciliation, she on bread-and-butter economics and her expertise on military affairs. Whereas McCain–a man whose known positions on the war and on the economy are deeply unpopular, whose other positions are endlessly shifting, whose party and ideology are rejected–is recast entirely in terms of his biography, his honor, his character, his American-ness.

This year the Republican argument is reduced to its barest essence: Americans versus “pluribus,” unprotected by the politeness of issues or safer symbolism. Hence McCain’s slogan, the politics of the flag pin, the e-mails charging that Obama doesn’t salute the flag, and the attempt to associate him with the anti-American politics of 1968, when he was 7 years old. This, then, may be the ultimate high-stakes gamble for the party of confident risk-takers: Accept that everything else–ideas, competence, governance–is gone, and instead of trying to reconstruct it, as the books recommend, bet everything on the bare essentials of Republican identity politics, “The American President Americans Are Waiting For.”

“The American President Americans Are Waiting For”. “Make America Great Again”. Schmitt wasn’t too far off in his prediction of the winning message, albeit eight years later than originally planned.

Read the whole article if you have time – the foreshadowing is quite spooky.

This is in significant part why Donald Trump will be taking the presidential oath of office on 20th January 2017 – because the American Left succeeded in shattering American society into a fractured group of warring special interests and victim groups, claiming nearly all of them for its own side but leaving the largest – the white working class – to the Trump-led Republicans.

And still they don’t see it. Still they rail against the ignorant, inbred hicks with their backward, racist ways. Still they treat the plurality of Americans who voted for Donald Trump as stupid, unwitting enablers of fascism (at best) or actively hateful “deplorables” at worst, unaware that every further such comment only serves to prove to the white working class that they are indeed under attack, and that they were right to band together and vote based partly (even largely) on the solidarity of identity.

At some point, somebody fairly prominent on the American Left is going to have to wake up, reach this conclusion and then have the courage to stick their head above the parapet and urge their fellow travellers to stop their destructive course of action. With their hysterical anti-Trump rhetoric, the American Left not only obscure Donald Trump’s many real and tangible flaws, they actively feed the monster which they fear the most.

Now that the populist Right are catching up with the new rules of the game, playing the identity politics card is turning into something approaching Mutual Assured Destruction. Sure, you can do it, but pandering to the politics of identity is now all but guaranteed to provoke an equal and opposite reaction from those being singled out as oppressors. And whoever wins on any given day, the country is left more divided, more bitter and less able to knit back together with goodwill when it comes time to govern.

The American Left needs to step back from this madness. Now.

 

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7 thoughts on “Identity Politics Gave Us President Trump; More Identity Politics Will Not Make Things Better

  1. hablamanos January 15, 2017 / 8:13 PM

    Respectfully,
    When you and the people that look like you are called rapist and a damper on prosperity in American its one thing but when the person who is speaking those words the loudest wins the presidential election is another. I have to speak up for our children so they understand the disparaging words about us are not true and to spread the truth and pride of who we are.
    I question those that want us to hush up. I don’t think they understand that it isn’t a fight we need but some understanding. People who are marginalized need to understand it isn’t true or right. Those that voted for the loudest bully need to talk about why they thought that’s ok…… Peacefully. Those voters would benefit from understanding that they have a lot in common with those being bullied including voting interests. No way being quiet around a bully or following him is gonna be good idea….. No fight but talk, talk and talk some more talking

    Like

  2. AndrewZ November 15, 2016 / 1:07 PM

    Reagan was relentlessly mocked and sneered at by the chattering classes on both sides of the Atlantic. It’s a reminder that there is nothing new about sneering and condescension from the clerisy. There is nothing new about smug, shallow TV comedians attacking anybody who deviates from metro-left orthodoxy. There is nothing new about the left vilifying its opponents with outrageous slander and hyperbolic denunciations. They’ve been doing it for decades.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Samuel Hooper November 15, 2016 / 1:38 PM

      Yes, I’ve heard a few people (Trump sympathisers and sceptics alike) making the comparison with the Left’s current meltdown and their derision of Ronald Reagan. Do you think that the two are comparable?

      Obviously it’s hard to tell in some ways – there was no Twitter or internet back then, and everybody more or less had to rely on the broadcast news and newspapers for their information unlike today. But while part of the anti-Trump hysteria is certainly rooted in this same left-wing disdain for anything heretical to their own dogma, in other ways it seems a bit more justified (concerns around Trump’s temperament and personal morals, for example).

      I was not yet born when Ronald Reagan took office so I lack the perspective of being able to directly compare the reactions to both election results.

      Like

      • Douglas Carter November 16, 2016 / 12:13 PM

        Hello Sam.

        The two phenomenon are partially comparable, but the eras in which the two co-exist are quite different.

        At the time Reagan was beginning to surmount the foothills to office. the western world was still in its most immediate international recall of US International involvement – that of Nixon and of Vietnam. For all his idealism, Carter also spiked the debate in that he directed his intelligence agencies to attempt to expand the shrinking, almost vanished CND movement in Europe in an attempt to build an anti-Nuclear (under the auspices of ‘anti-Soviet’) sentiment in Europe.

        The growth of Solidarity in Poland and the intervention by the Soviet Union in Afghanistan ran parallel to the failure of Carter’s strategy. Contrary to ‘the plan’, CND seized quickly – fed voraciously on it in fact – and comprehensively on widespread anti-Americanism throughout Europe (very successfully so in Schools and Universities) and whilst Carter looked positively shrivelled on the world stage, Reagan seemed to embody the bombast and the negative clumsiness of the post-war US Culture. (Specifically at that time – say, 1979 throughout ’80 to the election and beyond.) In particular there were several military responses that Reagan mooted to augment the US forces, at that time busily learning the lessons from South East Asia and bringing on board a new generation of weapons.

        He promised a ‘six-hundred ship’ Navy, and (perhaps theatrically) promised to recommission the New Jersey Class Battleships. The Rockwell B-1 Bomber cancelled by Carter would be reinstated and Cruise Missiles would be deployed to USAF Bases in Continental Europe and the UK.

        He therefore was labelled as warmonger and it was easy to depict him as such to those who were only too happy to have their pre-emplaced prejudices rewarded so. The Not-the-Nine’oclock News’ sketch is possibly a little unfair, but it’s the most immediate example of sneering I could find. To be fair to that programme, they were assiduously balanced at whom they would direct their satire . Certainly a great deal more so than you’d see in the current era. It was more or less assumed that World War Three would commence around eighteen hours into the start of the Reagan administration. At that time (latter 1980) with only the traditional media at hand, the BBC early evening programme ‘Nationwide’ in one edition documented the intended buildup of the US Arms capability, and post-scripted that sequence with a little skit about the ‘Witch’ Mother Shipton who had allegedly prophesied the end of the world in 1981.

        However, later in the 1980s came (in the UK certainly) a wave of inexplicable nihilism among the young. Perhaps embodied in the ‘news’paper ‘The Sunday Sport’. There was an actively enjoined and enthusiastically pursued culture of throwing of any real intellectual or academic concern for the world in which we/they lived. As unlikely as it sounds, as it reads is more or less exactly as it was on ground zero. My peers, those I knew throughout deployments around the UK, knew people who simply had had enough of retaining tiresome notions of awareness of national or international affairs – and that vacuous garbage and ‘d’ list Celeb tedium became the preferred cultural intake.

        It was an odd era, an extended threshold between then and now – but there seems to be a link through that refusal of proper continuity political scrutiny. In the earlier era, the young were at least politically active and had a reasonably detailed hold of the issues. ‘Issues’ now are prepackaged specifically for the young who previously have not developed a contiguous benchmark starting point for the debates at hand.

        But ultimately the comparisons between the pre-Reagan and pre-Trump eras are fairly reasonable to make. Both promised the upending of a trend towards mediocrity and passive acceptance of political drift. In each case, it’s easy to depict that as a threat to those for whom a complex conundrum is an affront, rather than a challenge to unpick.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Douglas Carter November 14, 2016 / 11:52 AM

    Off-topic ‘ish Sam – so apologies in advance, but just a historical footnote before Trump comes to office. Added here for no reason of opinion or analysis – just a little asterisk in the proceedings.

    On January 20, 1993 during the actual moments Clinton was delivering his oath of office on a bright, chilly public occasion, Cruise missiles from submarines, warships and B-52 bombers were airborne to strike at targets in Iraq, the first concerted attacks on Iraq since the end of hostilities in March 1991.
    The attacks were in response to what was seen as Iraq breaking UN conditions applied at the end of those hostilities. The attacks were really the start of the ten-year cat-and-mouse which led to the 2003 invasion, and those 1993 attacks took place with the full enthusiastic support of Clinton. In the following seven days, a greater weight of munitions were used against Iraq than had been used by ‘Fascist warmonger’ Ronald Reagan during all of his interventions in the entire eight years of his Presidency. The lead-up to Reagan’s period of office was replete with almost identical hyperbole over his alleged unsuitability for office.

    I’ve no particular enthusiasm for Trump, but I agree with your analysis that the political Left in the West are in urgent need of self-awareness tuition. Their most egregious flaws represent an unattended, long-term, smug, self-satisfied bigotry. If they are really to ‘save’ the world from the evils of the right, they collectively need to grow up and take a good, long inward look.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Samuel Hooper November 14, 2016 / 4:39 PM

      No need to apologise – a very thought provoking footnote, as always. And that was a great song from Not The Nine O’Clock News – I knew that Reagan was greatly underestimated and scorned when he ran for president (and then won), so should have realised that the sneering extended to this side of the Atlantic too.

      I’ve little confidence that in Donald Trump we have ourselves a Reagan 2.0 (it’s a very good disguise indeed, if so) but I agree that much of the current hysteria is vastly hyperbolic and often drowns out Trump’s actual negative qualities.

      But until the American Left come up with an alternative to divisive identity politics scaremongering and resentment-stoking, they really have no other card to play.

      Like

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