The fight to make the Democratic Party a more representative institution was not a fight around advertising but was directly connected to the demands of historically excluded groups to be included, not as window dressing but as central players. This entire history is being denied in the name of upholding some sort of supposedly pure fight for economic justice.
To be sure, liberal “identity politics” has sometimes thwarted the open inquiry and expression that liberal education and democracy should defend, and it has sometimes diverted effective responses to the serious threats to freedom that are now upon us. Why not direct the next crusade against those creeping threats to our liberties?
Ignoring race to focus solely on economics helps the GOP, and that won’t even be an option considering whom Trump’s policies will target, argues columnist Greg Sargent. But author Ian Haney-López asserts that the Democratic Party presenting itself as “a coalition of minorities, each with discrete identities but united by a few shared interests” won’t reverse the trends that have fed massive inequality either. Instead, Democrats must confront the right’s white identity politics for what it is: a scam against the entire American working class.
Identity politics rooted in race, gender and cultural identity invariably leads to tribalism—the great enemy of democracy. As Mark Lilla wrote, “the first identity movement in American politics was the Ku Klux Klan.”
One sees some utility in this brand of politicking, especially for Democrats. The party of Donald Trump has done its darnedest to offend the growing Latino electorate. But Republicans will get smart about this and reverse course. Even Trump? Especially Trump.