Ideals and alleles

Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s often mocked claim that she is Native American re-entered the national news last week when she released DNA test results that showed she is about 1% Native American. She promptly called on Pres. Trump to fulfill a promise that he would donate a million dollars to charity if she could prove such a bloodline. He demurred. Predictable outrage followed.

Discussion of their exchanges prompted me to wonder if we are finally seeing a shift away from identity politics, which may broadly be defined as the tendency of people from a similar demographic to support the same causes. In Mississippi, and I presume elsewhere, this has resulted in glorified tribalism. (You may call this “intersectionality” if you wish to be generous.)

I dislike identity politics because I try to “privilege” ideas over appearance. I don’t always succeed in this endeavor. However, I believe in its worthiness because it encourages people to work together in the name of a common cause regardless of their demographics. Sen. Warren should have realized long ago that her progressive ideals mean more to her constituents than one percent of her bloodline.

So the question I put to you, dear bloggers, involves the future you see for identity politics. Will it continue to shape political parties? Will it affect the outcome of next week’s election? Of the statewide elections in Mississippi next year?

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21 Responses to Ideals and alleles

  1. Dennis Lee says:

    For the first time in US history, white Americans are faced with the prospect of becoming a minority in their “own country.” While many in our multicultural cities may well celebrate the “browning of America” as a welcome step away from “white supremacy”, it’s safe to say that large numbers of American whites are more anxious about this phenomenon, whether they admit it or not. Tellingly, a 2012 study showed that more than half of white Americans believe that “whites have replaced blacks as the ‘primary victims of discrimination’.”

    Meanwhile, the coming demographic shift has done little to allay minority concerns about discrimination. A recent survey found that 43% of black Americans do not believe America will ever make the changes necessary to give blacks equal rights. Most disconcertingly, hate crimes have increased 20% in the wake of the 2016 election. [1]

    When groups feel threatened, they retreat into tribalism. When groups feel mistreated and disrespected, they close ranks and become more insular, more defensive, more punitive, more us-versus-them. In America today, every group feels this way to some extent. People with different races, genders, religious beliefs, and sexual orientations all feel their groups are being attacked, bullied, persecuted, and discriminated against. Of course, one group’s claims to feeling threatened and voiceless are often met by another group’s derision because it discounts their own feelings of persecution.

    This – combined with record levels of inequality – is why we now see identity politics on both sides of the political spectrum. And it leaves the United States in a perilous new situation: almost no one is standing up for an America without identity politics, for an American identity that transcends and unites all the country’s many subgroups.
    The defensible heart of identity politics is its commitment to opposing forms of discrimination like racism, sexism, and homophobia. But opposing discrimination today has no more to do with a left politics than do equally powerful ethical commitments against violence or dishonesty. Because the core of a left politics is its critique of and resistance to capitalism—its commitment to de-commodifying education, health care, and housing, and creating a more economically equal society.

    Neither hostility to discrimination nor the accompanying enthusiasm for diversity makes the slightest contribution to accomplishing any of those goals. Just the opposite, in fact. They function instead to provide inequality with a meritocratic justification: If everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed, there’s no injustice when some people fail. [2]

    But it is at the level of electoral politics that identity liberalism has failed most spectacularly, as we have just seen. National politics in healthy periods is not about “difference,” it is about commonality. And it will be dominated by whoever best captures Americans’ imaginations about our shared destiny. Ronald Reagan did that very skillfully, whatever one may think of his vision. So did Bill Clinton, who took a page from Reagan’s playbook. He seized the Democratic Party away from its identity-conscious wing, concentrated his energies on domestic programs that would benefit everyone (like national health insurance) and defined America’s role in the post-1989 world. By remaining in office for two terms, he was then able to accomplish much for different groups in the Democratic coalition. Identity politics, by contrast, is largely expressive, not persuasive. [3]

    This explains why identity politics usually works not so well even at times when the public opinion is leaning toward it. The fact that someone is a woman does not mean she would vote for a female candidate, nor would a black candidate necessarily support an African American to assume a position. Identity politics can be played around to make the already chaotic American politics seems more complicate, but it would never be a determining factor.

    Improperly cited sources
    [1] https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/mar/01/how-americas-identity-politics-went-from-inclusion-to-division
    [2] https://www.thenation.com/article/what-is-the-left-without-identity-politics/
    [3] https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/20/opinion/sunday/the-end-of-identity-liberalism.html

  2. Elijah Dosda says:

    Sadly yes. Identity politics exist as another underlying similarity between a constituent and a candidate, a trivial one, but one nonetheless that can help persuade their opinion.
    Identity politics are usually factored into a part of society much how like we are already factored into political groups. Identity has no bearing on competence, but for some people who simply wish to see a minority or someone they share an underlying connection with win the political race regardless if they are the best suited for the job, it will continue being a relevant trend from here on out.

  3. Zakkaria Reaves says:

    As terrible as it may be, I believe identity politics will continue to exist in politics. As many already states, people in politics, and elsewhere, are grouped, mostly. Whether it’s their race, gender, nationality, and etc., it has been proven people are usually sectioned in cases such as politics. Maybe they feel they could work better together due to them being able to relate to each other. However, I believe people could work better together, especially in politics because we need unity there especially, regardless, if they gave it an actual try. In my opinion, that would also keep down many discriminatory practices in the world today.

  4. H20 says:

    Personally, identity politics has always played a role in the political world. I feel like there is a psychological reason why humans do it, just like how animals form groups based on physical features. As much as it already shapes the political world, I believe it will continue to do so, and that lack of education is one reason it continues. Only a handful of people who vote actually views both perspectives and base their decision logically. Most individuals vote for the sake of their own benefit, rather than the country as a whole and its potential political leader’s affect on other countries. Although I do not believe that identity politics will perish any time soon, I feel that if citizens tried to understand more of what they are voting, it would lessen voting because of ethnicity. There are many different types of people out there, and most are also probably influenced by their religion of how they are brought up. This automatically leads their brain to lean towards one side of a political party. As it has affected previous elections, no doubt this affected the recent one as well, and predictably the future ones ahead. Identity politics isn’t easy to completely rid of, but in my opinion, if voters were more educated on politics, it would decrease the prevalence of identity politics.

  5. Ellen Overstreet says:

    Identity politics will always be a part of politics in America. People who aren’t well informed, concerning politics, will usually lean towards people who they believe are like them. There are a lot of people in America who don’t actually pay attention to what a candidate represents when they vote, so they base their judgement off race, sexuality, ethnicity, political party, etc.

  6. Talle says:

    Identity politics will continue to shape political parties and politics in America. People tend to lean towards people who look like them simply because they assume they can relate to them. As a society, we are afraid of people who may differ from us and ideas that may differ from the people we associate ourselves with. Politics should be about ideology. A person’s race, ethnicity, religion, or gender should not be the justification of why you may agree with them.

  7. tyra says:

    Identity politics defeat the purpose of candidates vocalizing their opinions to the public. Appearance can not make a difference in rules already set in place but ideas can. Words go beyond ethnicity, race, religion, etc. Appearance only displays the outer shell and not the intentions of candidates. Voting based on appearance can jeopardize states and the outcome of the United States as a whole. Someone can vote for a person based on their appearance and realize that they may have totally different viewpoints after the water has boiled. Identity politics deter the idea of political parties. Political parties consider the ideas of conservatives versus liberatives.

  8. Erin says:

    People tend to like seperating themselves into groups because they will be surrounded by people similar to them. Some people will vote for people, not because of the fact of them being a good politican, but because they identify similarly. I think identity politics could end if people stopped grouping themself based on similarities. That is unlikely to happen though.

  9. J says:

    Identity politics are political positions based on social groups in which people identify themselves with. Honestly, most people cling to the beliefs of their social group because they are unable to make decisions on their own. The risk of having a side that differs from the people you identify with can be frightening for individuals especially if they are viewed as an outcast. Therefore, the concept of identity politics will always be persistent in the American culture unless social groups are eradicated and everyone chooses to be one. That is a concept that I highly doubt will be received well by a multitude of individuals due to many reasons. These social groups are created so that others may become comfortable with people who are similar to themselves or who are identical to them in a certain way. People do not like being uncomfortable, so change is hard for many Americans.

    In addition, identity politics defeat the purpose of having political parties because it hinders the entire concept. It provides individuals an excuse to vote for negligible candidates for any political office all due to the idea that “I’m this or that, so I have to vote for blahblahblah.” It makes politics fairly racist and unfair in a way and it makes candidates completely target one audience if they serve a majority of their votes. Of course identity politics will affect the run-off election of senators: Cindy Hyde-Smith and Mike Epsy. It dominates in every election that the democracy of America administers. Mississippi is commonly conceived to be three things: poor, white, racist. With all of these things to consider, identity politics have dominated our past elections and may dominate future ones, because individuals who identify with those major groups choose to all sway in the same direction, because they would like people who represent who they are and what they stand for regardless of the ignorance that falls from their mouths. This always leads to the same outcome, because although people see the flaws in a candidate, they just go with what they know based on who they identify with.

  10. Collin says:

    Identity Politics will always remain prominent in our society. This is because we as a society care about the successes of different identities. If we didn’t care about this, we would not recognize things like the first black astronaut, we just see him as another astronaut. One’s identity will always be used as a sort of advantage in politics and will forever and always shape our nation’s political parties.

  11. Xavier Lucas-Cooper says:

    The practice of identity politics already holds a powerful place in American government. It will never leave its pedestal, so no matter how hard one tries, biased voting and/or support will occur. Yes, it is good that this incident gave light to the situation of identity politics, but I doubt that it will change a significant amount of citizens’ votes. Because race is still an extremely hot topic in Trump’s America these days, Identity politics can almost be seen as a way to succeed for some. The use of guilt tripping and identity politics in upcoming elections will be key for the foreseeable future of this country.

  12. Khytavia Fleming says:

    Identity politics, if we’re being honest, will always have a place in the world we live in today. There’s no fighting this either because it’s the truth. Many people choose what party they want to be in by the people who are in that specific party. Sometimes, it doesn’t even matter what that party values. It’s all about physical apperances and what people in your neighborhood have sided with. Furthermore, identity politics will continue to grow. It’s sad to say that many people (but not all) feel comfortable with their own race, and if siding with a party will give one that comfort, then that’s exactly what one will do. Maybe one day in the future identity politics will disappear, but for now it’s very prevalent and is speaking volumes throughout the world.

  13. Alicia Argrett says:

    Identity politics will definitely continue to shape how people vote especially in the black community. It shouldn’t, because no one really has to know who you voted for but you. However, the subscription to voting democratic simply, because you are black is ignorant. Politics these days are full of smoke and mirrors paired with preconceived notions. People need to approach all governmental opinions with an open mind. Predetermined voting is a waste of time and a waste of a vote.

  14. Taylor Shamblin says:

    Identity politics have been playing a defining role in political scenes across the globe- throughout history. Many politicians denounce the use of it, but, as sad as it is to say, this form of thought has been taught from birth in most cases. From my Southern perspective, I have seen time and time again, how my peers react to new figures of power (whether it be a new principal or a new senator). Notably, many of my peers, sharing similar economic backgrounds, would consistently follow a trend of a “copy culture”. This meant that they would see or hear one of the other’s thoughts on a topic and be immediately drawn towards this ideal. After discussing this topic over my life, I have found that many other people can identify this behavior between those with both varying economic backgrounds and racial ones. If this sort of “mob mentality” is found to be prevalent in the just the middle/high school environments, then it is just as easily inferred that it should also find itself deeply rooted in adult lives (politicians are not excluded). And based off of what we have seen from the latest Kavanaugh hearing, high school mentalities and habits are not easily shed. This conclusion sheds a bleak light over the future of our political systems, but, as an optimist, I hope this is not the case.

  15. E says:

    In the following election tomorrow, the state election next year, and the 2020 Presidential election will undoubtedly have aspects of Identity politics within them. Whether intentionally or not, judgements are made on a person based on their perceived background and race. Candidates are no different with times even their ideas are cast aside. Identity politics probably affected many voters in the last two elections. Some probably voted for Obama simply to support “the first African-American President” or Clinton for unprecedented “First Female President”. Thankfully, the majority of voters put into consideration the idea.ls and platform each candidate puts forth. Identity politics will play a role in the following midterm election and in the future.

  16. KT says:

    Identity politics will always be prevalent. Whether subconsciously or consciously, people will tend be more drawn to people who look a certain way. It may be because they believe a certain person who identifies a certain is more likely to understand issues that their identity faces. It may also be tied to a sense of pride that somebody like the voter is in office. Whatever reason, identity politics will always play a part in elections.

  17. Gina says:

    While I agree with you in that identity politics are not the best in that ideas should be prioritized over appearance and social groups, I believe that identity politics that will shape next week’s election. With so many current issues such as oppression and violence, many minor social groups are affected. When people identify with certain groups, it allows them to be a part of something and will make decisions based on how it will benefit those groups. Frankly, I think identity politics will continue to be prevalent and even grow.

  18. Mykailla Foster says:

    Identity politics will continue as long as people allow it . Honestly, I believe your race or gender should not even matter as far as politics should be concerned. But when you group yourself, you cannot expect others not to .

  19. B says:

    Identity politics have been and will as long as peoples mindset happens to be intertwined with the culture and race they have been brought up with and they experienced. Any level of diversity a person a person has will make that person want to be them. especially if it is a minority. The race of someone is something that has been brought up, many of times in cases to either harm or help them. Because when a minority in the given a showcase more people are like to follow it (Not just the minority, but other supporters of it). With the elections coming in about seven days, will anything change, probably not, but if feel as though it will be affected by it more then before, with all the uprising of different minorities and sexes.

  20. X says:

    Identity politics will continue to shape political parties if the members of these parties use their ethnicities to back up their claims, deals, or arguments. I agree that people should work together for a common cause and ignore their demographical origins. However, it will most likely continue to affect elections in the future. Donating to charity is a good thing, and Trump should not have rejected doing so, regardless of whether or not Senator Elizabeth Warren had any Native American bloodline. Agreeing on ideas that improve society and further progress should be done without racial or ethnical bias.

  21. Linda says:

    Identity politics will persist as long as people classify themselves/group themselves. If we ever evolve into a race where everyone is ethnically ambiguous, sensitive to all political viewpoints, and at a similar socioeconomic status, then the need for identity politics will disappear. Until then, it’s easy for people to group themselves and acts upon their group’s will. I believe this will affect all further elections.

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