At the recent Netroots Nation event (basically, it’s Nerd Prom for Leftists who are actually nerds), California Senator Kamala Harris called out people critical of identity politics, saying it’s a term that “is used to divide, and it is used to distract. Its purpose is to minimize and marginalize issues that impact all of us. It is used to try to shut us up.”
For the first time in my life, I agree with Senator Harris. I’m guessing, though, not for the same reasons.
Identity politics has taken on a whole new meaning within Leftist circles, which isn’t all that surprising. The Left is comprised of a loose network of like-minded individuals working together to achieve their goals while at the same time jockeying for position like roller derby competitors so their goals are the ones that get the most attention. In other words, it’s like Jim Acosta, Jesse Jackson, and Chuck Schumer fighting over a live microphone.
And with that, we delve into this week’s Leftist Lexicon entry!
What the Left thinks it means – issues that affect all Americans in one way or another because they affect the least powerful among us
What it really means – the politics of labels and division
To most people, I’m an average (albeit devilishly handsome) guy. To those who practice identity politics, I’m a litany of adjectives that would choke most bad writers. Since I’m heterosexual male, I’m cis-gendered who identifies as male. I’m lower middle class, so I’m a member of the working class or the underprivileged. I lean libertarian on most items, so I’m alt-right/fascist/Trumplican/white supremacist/mouth-breathing moron/the God of Hellfire and I bring you…
You get the picture. For every personal aspect, identity politics has a label for you, even if you don’t want or need it. But that’s the thing: the Left needs it to simplify its thinking. If they can figure out what you are (or what they think you are), they can identify what boxes you can check off in their Great Victimhood Lottery. Then, they can appeal to you on a personal level. You know, just like a cult leader.
And if you happen to be a contrarian like your humble reporter, those labels can be used to dismiss your opinions as wrong-think. If you support the Second Amendment, you’re a “gun nut” or an “ammosexual.” Listen to Rush Limbaugh? You’re a “right wing nut job” or a “mindless sheep.” And so on. Once Leftists identify you as a non-preferable identity based on your labels, they can and will dismiss you on any and all subjects. You could be a highly-accredited peer-reviewed published climate scientist who read a little Ayn Rand in college, but to the Left you’re scum.
Isn’t that lovely? The party of tolerance, ladies and gentlemen.
Although identity politics makes things easier to understand, it leaves out a lot of what the Left loves to call nuance. Everybody is unique, which makes it hard to put them in boxes without creating a big mess. Just because someone fits a certain arbitrary category doesn’t mean he or she is a perfect candidate for it, nor does it mean he or she will voluntarily conform to the expectations of said category. Why, it’s almost as if people are…diverse! If only there were an ideology that proclaims to be all about diversity…oh, wait, there is!
Unfortunately, the diversity the Left practices is of the superficial variety. The color of your skin, your sexual orientation, your religious background (save for Christians), and other factors are what they look for instead of ideological, intellectual, or even socio-economic factors.
And that’s where identity politics falls apart. Once you boil someone down to what he or she looks like, you miss out on the true beauty he/she brings to the table. Assuming an albino pan-sexual lesbian crossdressing midget who likes clog dancing will automatically be a Leftist removes what makes said person unique and limits what Leftists know about him or her. To use a concept Leftists love to use against others, they are removing people’s agency (and that is another blog post altogether).
Instead of looking at people as what makes them different from each other, why don’t we look at what unites us? We are all human beings with all the positives and negatives that come with being human. Anything beyond that is minutia. And this is one reason why #WalkAway has become so popular. People are tired of being stripped down to labels and being told those labels define what we must believe. The beauty of humans is that we aren’t limited by what we’re born with or as. The only limitations are the ones we impose on ourselves.
And really that’s the heart of identity politics: imposing limits on everyone in the hopes we will agree with said limits. That creates an implied need for help, and the Left is all too happy to oblige. The problem is their “help” never actually…you know…helps. It’s designed to keep people dependent upon the Left for every need, including self-esteem and personal identity. That’s slavery on a whole different level, kids.
So, Senator Harris was right. Identity politics has become a pejorative, but it’s not because of the critics. It’s because identity politics sucks.