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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