The Danger in Identity Politics

Cade Heikes, Staff Writer

Cade Heikes, Staff Writer

Identity politics is, denotatively, the forming of political alliance based only on a particular social background, race, religion etc. It is edging its way into an acceptable state in America and the death of policy debate looms in its wake.

An individual, under this idea, may vote or politically align to one side of the political aisle simply because groups they identify with overwhelmingly hold ground there. Think of this like supporting everything a star basketball player at your school does just because you also play basketball. Ridiculous right? This group identity feels good because one can fit in easier and encounter less political scrutiny, however, it has very alarming implications.

Looking at the causes of the development of identity politics itself can expose the foolishness behind the thinking- enter intersectionality. Intersectionality, in a Leftist definition, means that your opinion only matters relative to how many victim groups you can identify with, leaving the straight white male at the bottom of this hierarchy and with no real defined top, as new groups claim victim status quite frequently. For example, it is much better as a Democratic candidate to be a Native American woman than just a white woman. As the minority statuses add up, intersectionality says, the more merit is lent to your opinion. The idea is embraced because it leaves people exercising their political support with people they “intersect” with in identity rather than political or economic belief. This leaves the Democratic Party harboring the votes of self-proclaimed victim groups at the end of the day, despite the fact that individuals in those groups could very well be voting against their own best interest. This being said is in no way to say minorities do not make well-informed, self-interested decisions, but rather to emphasize a growing political fad that threatens them. Similarly, we find on the right the same powers of thought at work except in use to maintain holds on the white Christian majority. This is, based merely on observational evidence, less of a direct result of intersectionality itself, but nonetheless still blatant identity politics and has the same negative effects.

Intersectionality breeds identity politics, and this facilitates anti-intellectual and anti-democratic results. Good reason and logic are whisked out the window if the leaders of your “group” or demographic tell you that you should think a certain way. These identity police certainly, but not exclusively, manifest themselves in the form of the media. Often in the media, candidates will get attention and popularity for their basic identity, like Hillary Clinton for being a woman, or Elizabeth Warren for being Native American. This encourages viewers who share those characteristics or even those who simply are a minority to lend their support blindly
without consideration of the policies or character of a candidate.

At the end of the day, these ideas destroy the individual and discourage free thought. The media and interest groups do not want you to evaluate issues from your unique perspective and with your own beliefs and intuition. It leads to judgement on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation etc., rather than one’s individual character and actions. People will expect you to believe certain things because of your immutable characteristics, and no one on any side of the political spectrum thinks that is beneficial or just. This is also accompanied with divisiveness. Identity politics is fueled by self-victimization, which logically requires an oppressor. This unrealistic victim-oppressor paradigm is bound to cause distrust, disunity and polarization; and often the same people who are responsible for self-victimization complain incessantly about political polarization and lack of government productivity.

The wave of negative effects resulting from identity politics is most easily neutralized by individuals unceasingly pursuing knowledge and perspectives on politics and current events. As citizens of a democratic nation, it is our responsibility to be knowledgeable and to weigh the logical conclusions of ideas on the balance of pros and cons. A society in which such people exist in the majority facilitates well-informed voting and political allegiance as well as emphasis on ideas and logic rather than identity. Furthermore, having a keen awareness of political fads and remaining perennially skeptical are great defenses from slipping into feelgood, detrimental allegiance. Group thinking and identity politics is the realm of the intellectually lazy and willfully ignorant, belonging in the political regrets of America.