If you win by identity politics, you lose by identity politics.


My brother in law defended his Trump vote in a series of texts to me explaining that white males are the only group it’s ok to hate and marginalize in our political discourse. He felt besieged politically, socially and economically. He also felt the need to remind me that the Best Man at his wedding to my sister was his gay black best friend.

I let that sink in for a few days.

I scanned my Facebook feed, reading about inconsolable young women, angry gays, frightened Muslims, defiant African Americans. A “million woman march” is being planned for the day after inauguration. I too posted my share of self righteous commentary on my Facebook wall.

That evening I tried to comfort my distraught daughter as she sobbed, “Pence believes in electroshock therapy for gay teenagers! How can anyone vote for him? How can anyone put their jobs or taxes above that?! Maybe they don’t hate gays, but they don’t care about gays!”

Her pain was real. But let me translate: “How can anyone put their self interest above my self interest?!”

First, I was struck by the misinformation of her claim. There is no credible news source that can pinpoint such an outrageous position by Pence. There’s a lot of faux news out there folks. Beware and be discerning. Critical thinking is hard work.

Secondly, the irony of her statement was entirely lost on her. One could easily hear my brother in law’s (more restrained) complaint, “the democrats’ definition of ‘inclusion’ doesn’t include me.”

We don’t have much governing done by leaders anymore; we have identity politics played at every level. Power is acquired and negotiated to groups and through groups. Be it democrat, republican, conservative, liberal, Hispanic, black, Muslim, evangelical, female, or LGBTQ…

You pick your box (or are born into it) and are expected to subscribe to the worldview in that box that some activist told you to believe. The only common ground might be a shared contempt for the one percent, assumed to be white corporate titans with summer homes in the Hamptons.

We need to change that. If this election teaches us anything it is that governing needs to be about policies that impact us all equally as human beings. There are very few truly competing interests and that’s where really good, rational debate can and should happen.

If you voted for Hillary Clinton because she’s a woman, you can’t be angry if someone voted for Trump because he’s a man. If you voted for Hillary because you believe she would defend one type of religious expression then you can’t be angry that someone voted for Trump believing he’ll fight for a different religious doctrine.

Trump exploited identity politics in his win as much as Hillary did in her loss.

There’s a moral superiority in much of the angst about Hillary’s loss that really needs to be examined. Group narcissism may be much more dangerous and damaging to our nation than Donald Trump’s narcissism.