We Can’t Separate Identity From Politics — My Latest on Medium


Countless moderate liberals have called upon the Democratic party to ditch “identity politics” in the wake of Trump. “We need a post-identity liberalism,” Columbia University professor Mark Lilla wrote back in 2016. “Such a liberalism would concentrate on widening its base by appealing to Americans as Americans and emphasizing the issues that affect a vast majority of them.” According to Lilla, Audre Lorde’s message of recognizing and celebrating our differences is detrimental to American politics, so instead of focusing on issues that uniquely affect different groups of people, liberals need to unite on issues that affect all Americans.

Unfortunately, to quote Lorde again, “There is no thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” In other words, there is no way to separate identity from politics. Every political issue affects different groups in different ways, so in a way all politics are identity politics.

Read the rest here.

Comments

  1. Chris J says

    Such a liberalism would concentrate on widening its base by appealing to Americans as Americans and emphasizing the issues that affect a vast majority of them.

    The majority of Americans don’t suffer from poverty. The majority don’t suffer from prison over-crowding. The majority don’t suffer from hunger, or cancer, or AIDs.

    And if you include the qualifier “vast” in “vast majority,” you start picking off many other issues that one would usually think is under the purview of the government to improve the welfare of American citizens. The vast majority of Americans don’t get abortions, or suffer from illegal immigration, or suffer from a decline in US manufacturing jobs, or suffer from a decline in coal jobs, or face barriers to voting. It is not the case that the vast majority of Americans pay taxes (45.3% don’t pay taxes, and I don’t consider 55% to be a “vast majority”), and it isn’t the case that the vast majority of Americans don’t pay taxes!

    The only silver lining in this ridiculous world-view is that just about the only thing most Americans deal with are things like infrastructure and climate change. And, technically, wealth disparity. So it doesn’t even knock out some of the things conservatives would oppose, nor would it knock out one of the things that I’m sure Mark Lila would consider “identity politics” by economic class.

  2. Chris J says

    Err, quick correction, the source I used for tax payment was talking about Federal taxes only, and said that almost everyone pays some other form of tax, so… caveat.

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