Donald Trumps presidency has been is characterized by a huge effort to protect the narrow interests of one particular demographic group: wealthy white men
Identity politics used to be for Democrats- now it’s for Republican and they’re using it perniciously.
Identity politics have long been central to the message of the Democratic party, viewed as a constituency of African American people, Hispanic people, educated lily-white progressives, LGBTQ people, single women and more.
Conservatives, meanwhile, had previously defined themselves ideologically.
Ronald Reagan’s so-called ” three-legged stool” coalesced a bloc of ideologically distinct groups- national security reactionaries, social reactionaries and fiscal conservatives- to pursue a single organize of policies.
But from demonstrations around the removal of Confederate statues to the backlash over NFL musicians kneeling in protest at police brutality, Donald Trump’s firstly time in the White House has shown Republicans to be the real drivers of identity politics. It’s just one development which is usually moves unremarked upon.
Sarah Schulman has written that:” Gentrification is a process that obscures the apparatus of dominance from the dominant themselves .” Just so, Trump’s prioritization of America’s traditionally powerful class( white-hot, male and wealthy) has been endowed a cloak of invisibility.
The right is quick to accuse Democrats of identity politicking when they do things such as prioritize voter turnout the initiatives and equal access to services for same-sex couples, say, or when they promote decriminalize undocumented immigrants and healthcare for the half the population that isn’t male. And even prominent Democrats such as Bernie Sanders say the party focuses too much on identity, to the harm of more important things.
But it’s Republicans who have been working overtime to protect the narrow the best interests of a chosen demographic group. Because we take the privileges of the powerful for awarded, however, only the interests of minority groups get described in these terms.
Minority groups are criticized for” playing the status of women card”, or benefiting from affirmative action, when in fact it’s the powerful in civilization who’ve benefited from an invisible kind of affirmative action all along. Not having to acknowledge that privilege allowed by powerful to engage in video games of make-believe, perpetuating the myth that their success is a matter of strict meritocracy.
In his article for the Atlantic, Reflections of an affirmative action babe, Peter Beinart demonstrates uncommon revelation and franknes when he explains how he benefited from such unwritten rules as a young editor at the storied liberal magazine the New Republic. The owned and editor-in-chief at the time seemed a particular hatred to affirmative action, Beinart explains, but the irony was the publication was itself was already” a hothouse of racial and sexual preference”, just one that skewed away from women and certain minorities.
Ta-Nehisi Coates describes the benefits of race, gender and class provided to so many of us as a” tailwind “. And Beinart, to his credit, interpreted his own experience in that metaphor. He writes:” I was extending hard-boiled. But without that tailwind, it’s unlikely I would have become the magazine’s editor at age 28.”
Trump and his party haven’t been so honest.
When I was in Maine inspecting my husband’s family this summer, a prominent former lefty commander bemoaned his party’s” emphasis on identity politics”, adding what Democrats really necessity is a more “masculine” nominee and a focus on the lily-white working class.
This is the most insidious shape of identity politics of all: identity politics for me but not for thee. Trump and others on the right and sometimes the left have been trying to dress it up as a kind of populism, but it’s just old-fashioned nativism with a brand-new 21 st-century twist.
There were glints of it with the rise of the Tea party but never have white identity politics- the costumed politics of bigotry- reached such great statures, all while still extending for invisible. If there’s a three-legged stool to the GOP now its legs are all of a piece: whiteness, opulence and masculinity.
Trump hasn’t accomplished much policy-wise but his tax statute is designed to drastically lower taxes for the wealthiest Americans at the expense of its weakest. Coupled with his recent campaigning for an alleged child molester and refusal to condemn lily-white nationalist powers in Charlottesville earlier this year, it’s clear Trump is carrying off the most shameless sort of identity politics of all: protecting entrenched influence and its abuse.
The good news, if there is any, is that Trump’s comprehending signals the dominant power is no longer so reigning. Where before it moved unquestioned, it has to defend itself now.