The End of Identity Politics?

A current meme circulating among commentators on both the right and left holds that the presidential election signaled the end of identity politics. Liberal author Mark Lillanov wrote in the New York Times on November 18th, “One of the many lessons of the recent presidential election campaign and its repugnant outcome is that the age of identity liberalism must be brought to an end.” He later added, “National politics in healthy periods is not about “difference,” it is about commonality.”

Writing in the same publication the same weekend, conservative columnist Ross Douthat argued that what liberalism really needs is more of that ol’ time religion:   “(I)t may not be enough for today’s liberalism, confronting both a right-wing nationalism and its own internal contradictions, to deal with identity politics’ political weaknesses by becoming more populist and less politically correct. Both of these would be desirable changes, but they would leave many human needs unmet. For those, a deeper vision than mere liberalism is still required — something like “for God and home and country,” as reactionary as that phrase may sound.” (For others the same needs could be met by good ol’ fashioned “sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll,” as Woodstockian as that phrase may sound!)

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The Future Bleaching of America?

Somewhere in heaven, the ghost of Abraham Lincoln threw up in his top hat. “I can’t believe it,” said Abe, wiping off his beard. “My Party nominated and my country elected a white supremacist. My God!”

God, who happened to be nearby, looked over. “What can I say?” God told Abe. “A plague is a plague.”

Is Abe right about Donald Trump being a white supremacist? The possibility cannot be ruled out, given the prominence of Breitbart.com figures in his campaign. The Breitbart website is commonly referred to as an “alt-right” website, and “alt-right” is basically the politically correct term for white supremacist.

But, does it matter? Years ago I conducted a workplace investigation into alleged racial harassment. When I interviewed the accused, he told me, “I swear to God, I’m not a racist.” My reply: I don’t care. Go ahead and be a racist if that’s what you are. Just don’t act like one in the workplace. I take the same approach with the nation’s new employee:   Go ahead and be a white supremacist, if that’s what you are — just don’t govern like one.

How will we know whether Trump will govern as a white supremacist? The answer may come fairly quickly, as he lays out his immigration policy. It won’t be in provisions to deport most undocumented immigrants, or to build a wall along the Mexican border. Neither mass deportations nor the wall will ever happen. That rhetoric will not become reality. The litmus test for whether, and to what extent, Trump is influenced by white supremacist ideology will be his proposal for future immigration.

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In A Heartbeat

Picture of Mike Tully, Webmaster and Publisher
Mike Tully’s Column Runs Each Monday In the Southern Arizona News Examiner Site.

Certain life events focus the mind extraordinarily. Famous examples are the prospect of being hanged or the experience of being shot at. Other life events resonate with irony. I just had a life event that falls squarely in both categories.

First the irony: I just retired from my most recent job, with Pima County. After seven and a half years with the County my effective retirement date was November 13th. I was looking forward to a new stage in my life in which I could still do interesting things, but at my pace. Then, on the first day of my retirement, I suffered a massive heart attack. There it was: the hot breath of the irony dragon.

The focusing came the next day, after I was rushed into the catheter lab to have a stent implanted that restored normal blood flow and eliminated the pain. Neither the pain nor my concern that I might spend retirement in an urn on the mantle focused my mind. It was this: the realization that I was lucky.

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