Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Defeat of Diversity Politics

As an old, apparently not Chinese saying goes: Be careful what you wish for; you might get it.

Once upon a time the great minds behind the Hillary Clinton campaign wanted to run against Donald Trump. They believed that Trump would be the easiest Republican to beat. To be fair, they might have been right. Another Republican might have beaten Hillary by more. But, the truth is, they could not beat Trump.

The American left has been having something of a hissy fit over the Trump election. Good manners have gone by the wayside. Throughout the mainstream media bigot-shaming is the order of the day. The vice-president elect cannot sit through a play without being booed from the audience and lectured from the stage. Anyone who imagined that the post-election period was a time for American to attempt to come together has, by now, been disembarrassed of his naïveté.

One notes, in passing, that bigot shaming—or just plain shaming—was a notable characteristic of Mao Zedong’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. It was designed to strip people of their self-respect, the better to draw them into a guilt culture.

Two decades ago I compared the Great American Cultural Revolution to its Chinese ancestor. Apparently, the comparison still holds. One suspects that the Red Guards among us see the Trump election as a great defeat. Thus, the wails of anguish and the constant bigot-shaming. Hopefully, the new administration will not react by trying to arrest the Gang of Four.

The sad part of it is that so many leftists are doubling down on a failed strategy. (My earlier analysis here) The American public has rejected the politics of multiculturalism. In the Age of Obama the Democratic Party—aka the diversity party— has suffered defeat after defeat at every level of government. Such are the facts.

And yet, amidst the heat generated by those who want to show off how passionately they believe in their credo, there are a few rays of light. Among them Columbia Prof. Mark Lilla's excellent article about why the liberal left’s obsession with diversity has failed.

Lilla is concerned that identity politics has drowned liberalism and rendered it incapable of governing. His would be one explanation for why the Age of Obama has seen the wholesale destruction of the Democratic Party:

But how should … diversity shape our politics? The standard liberal answer for nearly a generation now has been that we should become aware of and “celebrate” our differences. Which is a splendid principle of moral pedagogy — but disastrous as a foundation for democratic politics in our ideological age. In recent years American liberalism has slipped into a kind of moral panic about racial, gender and sexual identity that has distorted liberalism’s message and prevented it from becoming a unifying force capable of governing.

“Moral panic”… an excellent phrase, one that you can see in action throughout the mainstream media today.

Why did Hillary lose? Lilla answers: when she stopped speaking about policy she did not tailor her message to all Americans, but only to those whose grievances were covered by the diversity police:

Hillary Clinton was at her best and most uplifting when she spoke about American interests in world affairs and how they relate to our understanding of democracy. But when it came to life at home, she tended on the campaign trail to lose that large vision and slip into the rhetoric of diversity, calling out explicitly to African-American, Latino, L.G.B.T. and women voters at every stop. This was a strategic mistake. If you are going to mention groups in America, you had better mention all of them. If you don’t, those left out will notice and feel excluded. Which, as the data show, was exactly what happened with the white working class and those with strong religious convictions. Fully two-thirds of white voters without college degrees voted for Donald Trump, as did over 80 percent of white evangelicals.

The excluded groups rose up and voted for Donald Trump. But they did not see themselves as yet another aggrieved group. They saw themselves as Americans, first.

Perhaps more importantly, the emphasis on diversity, in schools and in the media, has been divisive. Children are taught to identify as members of oppressed groups before they are taught to identify as Americans. Patriotism becomes expendable when people are taught that their first loyalty must be to a subgroup. Multiculturalism describes a society where different people belong to different cults and where they worship different gods…. it’s an atavistic yearning for polytheism.

Lilla explains it well:

But the fixation on diversity in our schools and in the press has produced a generation of liberals and progressives narcissistically unaware of conditions outside their self-defined groups, and indifferent to the task of reaching out to Americans in every walk of life. At a very young age our children are being encouraged to talk about their individual identities, even before they have them. By the time they reach college many assume that diversity discourse exhausts political discourse, and have shockingly little to say about such perennial questions as class, war, the economy and the common good. In large part this is because of high school history curriculums, which anachronistically project the identity politics of today back onto the past, creating a distorted picture of the major forces and individuals that shaped our country. (The achievements of women’s rights movements, for instance, were real and important, but you cannot understand them if you do not first understand the founding fathers’ achievement in establishing a system of government based on the guarantee of rights.)

Does this have anything to do with the way the actors in Hamilton responded to the presence of vice-president elect Pence? Lilla analyzes; you decide.

Today’s college campuses are obviously a national embarrassment. There the average voter sees the nation’s most privileged young people indulging themselves, wasting their talents, and rendering themselves dysfunctional.

Lilla writes:

How to explain to the average voter the supposed moral urgency of giving college students the right to choose the designated gender pronouns to be used when addressing them? How not to laugh along with those voters at the story of a University of Michigan prankster who wrote in “His Majesty”?

Identity politics has infested journalism. How many times did we hear that we needed to vote for Hillary because she would be the first female president? How many people voted for Barack Obama because he would be the first African-American president?

Obviously, once you establish the principle, those who bought it will have to justify their decision by writing everything into a diversity narrative:

Fascination with the identity drama has even affected foreign reporting, which is in distressingly short supply. However interesting it may be to read, say, about the fate of transgender people in Egypt, it contributes nothing to educating Americans about the powerful political and religious currents that will determine Egypt’s future, and indirectly, our own. No major news outlet in Europe would think of adopting such a focus.

Lilla is describing a decline and degradation of American intellectual life, a willful blindness to objective facts, a blindness imposed by the identity drama.

Identity politics has run amok during the Obama administration. Obama’s supporters feel obliged to defend and rationalize everything he did. They believe that the election of a black American is ipso facto a good thing because it advances the narrative. Thus they must believe, as Obama himself does, that he was a great success.

Diversity narratives are divisive. They divide the nation. They make it impossible to join together for common effort. They demean patriotism in favor of mindless rants.

Lilla explains it well:

National politics in healthy periods is not about “difference,” it is about commonality. And it will be dominated by whoever best captures Americans’ imaginations about our shared destiny. Ronald Reagan did that very skillfully, whatever one may think of his vision. So did Bill Clinton, who took a page from Reagan’s playbook. He seized the Democratic Party away from its identity-conscious wing, concentrated his energies on domestic programs that would benefit everyone (like national health insurance) and defined America’s role in the post-1989 world. By remaining in office for two terms, he was then able to accomplish much for different groups in the Democratic coalition. Identity politics, by contrast, is largely expressive, not persuasive. Which is why it never wins elections — but can lose them.

The media, Lilla continues, has portrayed the election results as a revolt of another aggrieved group: uneducated white males. Diversity liberals might have lost but they will never give up the narrative. For his part Lilla rejects the notion that it was a “whitelash:”

This is convenient because it sanctions a conviction of moral superiority and allows liberals to ignore what those voters said were their overriding concerns. It also encourages the fantasy that the Republican right is doomed to demographic extinction in the long run — which means liberals have only to wait for the country to fall into their laps. The surprisingly high percentage of the Latino vote that went to Mr. Trump should remind us that the longer ethnic groups are here in this country, the more politically diverse they become.

Finally, the whitelash thesis is convenient because it absolves liberals of not recognizing how their own obsession with diversity has encouraged white, rural, religious Americans to think of themselves as a disadvantaged group whose identity is being threatened or ignored. Such people are not actually reacting against the reality of our diverse America (they tend, after all, to live in homogeneous areas of the country). But they are reacting against the omnipresent rhetoric of identity, which is what they mean by “political correctness.” Liberals should bear in mind that the first identity movement in American politics was the Ku Klux Klan, which still exists. Those who play the identity game should be prepared to lose it.

Liberalism got lost in the forest of identity politics because it embraced multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism… to the detriment of patriotism. It has chosen to pander to special interests and has failed to articulate a message of inclusiveness and love of country.

In Lilla’s words:

Such a liberalism would concentrate on widening its base by appealing to Americans as Americans and emphasizing the issues that affect a vast majority of them. It would speak to the nation as a nation of citizens who are in this together and must help one another. 

In the midst of the din Lilla has proposed a sensible analysis of what is wrong with American liberalism.


Anonymous said...

What is the vice-president doing attending some dumb rap musical where Hamilton is some trash-talking thug who acts ghetto?

THAT is the bigger problem. We need to steer clear of such trash culture.

Btw, I find it hilarious that the 'sophisticated' Prog idea of Kultur is some overblown rap musical where Hamilton and the American Revolution are turned into Epic Rap Battle of the Century. (By the way, the whining was about 'equality', but the real Hamilton was no egalitarian. And I find talk of equality rather amusing when tickets for Hamilton aren't affordable to the hoi polloi who must stick to TV. Elites who attend Hamilton the musical are like Marie Antoinette playing a simple peasant. It is a decadents means of the rich to fantasize about being 'one with the people, esp the diverse ones'. In fact, most diverse folks in NY are washing dishes or changing diapers. I doubt if most Mexicans and Puerto Ricans in NY can afford to see Hamilton or attend fancy schools. Besides, who comes to the US to be equal anyway? Immigrants come to be unequal, to make more money and in hope that their kids will do better than kids in other parts of the world. People come to America with dreams of winning, not losing and being equal to everyone else.)

Rap battle can be fun, like this one, but I wouldn't pay money, esp big bucks, to see it.

Next time, I suggest Pence attend the Grand Ole Opry or a real opera.

Sam L. said...

"Good manners have gone by the wayside." There are many who would say, That's Not News. "Long gone", "Lo, those many years", "You're just noticing?"; all could be added.

"The sad part of it is that so many leftists are doubling down on a failed strategy." Sad for them, yes. Joyous, for others. Dig that hole deeper and pull down the ladder behind you.

"The excluded groups rose up and voted for Donald Trump. But they did not see themselves as yet another aggrieved group. They saw themselves as Americans, first." To whom Hillary was NOT TALKING.

" Children are taught to identify as members of oppressed groups before they are taught to identify as Americans. Patriotism becomes expendable when people are taught that their first loyalty must be to a subgroup." Watch WWII movies. Diverse groups (often without blacks) worked together for the good of America and the benefit of all.

"Lilla is describing a decline and degradation of American intellectual life, a willful blindness to objective facts, a blindness imposed by the identity drama." By those same "intellectuals".

"Liberals should bear in mind that the first identity movement in American politics was the Ku Klux Klan, which still exists." And was originated by Democrats.

Sorry, Stu, my inner Ares took over. I think it's run down now.

Trigger Warning said...

"Rap musical" is an oxymoron. Other than that, I agree completely.

Anonymous said...

So many of these Proglodytes are Progots and Smugots.

They smugly think they are better than anyone because they have PC on their side. It's like the Red Guards thought history was on their side because they screamed 'bourgeois' at all their enemies(as chosen by Mao of course).

If bigot cannot see what is good about other people, progots cannot see what is bad about certain favored 'victim' groups. So, if a bigot only sees bad things about others and only the good things about his own kind, a progot sees only bad things about his own people and only good things about other groups favored by PC.

Since PC favors blacks, they are never to be judged even though most blacks are killed by other blacks than by white cops.
Since PC favors homosexuals, they are never to be held responsible for the AIDS epidemic that killed so many of them. The disease spread because too many 'gays' were having a wild time. Let the Good Times Roll. But since homosexuals are seen as angels(unfortunately even by Trump), we have to make believe that it was "Reagan's Indifference" that caused all those deaths during the height of the AIDS epidemic.

Anonymous said...

The problem of Diversity Politics isn't just the vilification of whites but the jostling among non-whites(loudest being blacks), women, homosexuals, Muslims, transsexuals, illegals, and etc as to who should occupy the throne. Diversity is never about equality but each group vying for the most attention.

The whole thing turned into a farce when even freaks were allowed to run amok as newly minted identities. It went from the needs of large groups such as blacks and 'Hispanics' to the decadent vanity of men who wanna wear high heels and go wee-wee in the women's room.
It just became farcical. One might even say it normalized mental problems as the New Normal lionizes anything that is deviant and vilifies anything that is 'heteronormative'.

Once society decided that homosexuality has equal worth as real sexuality -- even though homosexuality has never created a single life-form and involves unsavory gential-anal 'sex' -- , it opened the pandora's box of freakdom.

I mean if 'butt-sex' is equal to real sex and if a transsexual's fake vagina is equal to a real vagina, we might as well say 2 + 2 = 5.

The focus on Diversity made some sense in the past when it dealt with racial discrimination and need for more representation among non-whites. And it made sense when greater tolerance was called for various groups, even deviant ones.
After all, a democracy should be able to tolerate difference.

But when deviant lifestyles came to be celebrated and promoted with manic delirium --- we now have massive parades in honor of men who indulge in 'butt sex' ---- , all social and moral norms went out the window.
When every freak, loser, and degenerate noticed how homos were the angelic darlings of America, they felt their kind should be equally recognized, honored, and celebrated.

So, we had Obama praising Bruce 'Caitlyn' Jenner as a model of 'courage' and a 'woman'.

Moral standards have fallen so low that even Trump the GOP candidate is okay with a man in a dress using the women's room at Trump Tower.

Now, what if 'Caitlyn' wants to use the women's shower?

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

What is striking is the lack of diversity amongst the people yelling the loudest for it. This is what I have previously described as self-congratulation among the morally magnificent. They are generally come from white, affluent, college-educated society. They don't fight for equal access, they demand equal results. Their quest is impossible. Rather than admit this and advocate for the best possible outcomes possible within the boundaries of the human condition, they pursue "non-negotiable demands" with the threat of intimidation and violence. They're no different than Mao's Red Guards -- their worldview is identical. They use the same means to create the ends. They can't treat all people equally, so they'll make all people equal. We know how that goes historically, and the Chinese Cultural Revolution was probably the most brutal example. They are destroyers, enshrouded in ignorant idealism.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

I have a professional colleague and friend who was lamenting on the phone yesterday about Trump's win and his cabinet/advisor picks. She spoke at length about Trump's "hate." Indeed she used the word many times. She shared a story one of her friends told her: that Trump supporters confronted this woman and spat on her, yelling "Get out of here, you little fucking Jew! We've been waiting 8 years for this!"

That's a lot of venom.

Yet I do not believe this incident occurred. I let it go and just listened to her, but I don't believe what her friend reported. I don't know what the context was. But I cannot imagine it. It strikes me as being akin to a racist graffiti incident against a minority group, and you find out someone from that very minority group did it. This is telephone game stuff... rumor-mongering. If Trump supporters did say something like this to my colleague's friend, I would expect there would be Trump supporters who would step in and talk them down. And someone would be nearby capturing video on their cell phone. I've not seen such videos.

This all reminds me of "The Crucible." So many true believers out there crying "Witch! Witch!" Except now it's "Racist! Racist!" It foments fear among the morally magnificent, and inspires them to continue their "struggle" against a foe that somehow, invisibly lurks everywhere around them in white America. Except themselves and their friends, of course.

Yet these kinds of stories truly scare people. And there are many impressionable allies who will believe such tall tales hook, line and sinker. I have never heard any Trump supporter ever say anything remotely like this, or in such a tone... hence, my disbelief.I have no reference point, but I do have an active imagination. But I can't get to this level of venom taking place in open space because Trump won an election. I've seen it with BLM people hurling obscenities at cops, so maybe it's possible. But the idea that Trump supporters are out there, roving in gangs predating Jewish women as some victory celebration seems preposterous. Even in victory, I find most Trump supporters are quiet about their win. I've encountered few who have wanted to rub it in or heckle their liberal friends. I don't see any spiking the football and excessive celebration.

Instead, I see a lot of manufactured, over-the-top wailing and fear from Hillary supporters, who've said they've gone through boxes of kleenex and had to get lots of emotional support the past week. Their are monsters under their beds.

Really? After an election? Elections have been going on in this country for a long time. Sure, people can get into it, but when it's over, it's... well, over. Instead, I'm hearing about shocked students needing Play-Doh and crayons, and adults looking like they just witnessed a murder. I haven't seen this level of emotional pique and mass catharsis since 9/11. And it was a regular election... the kind that happens every 4 years. What creates this level of shock and awe? What gives? How fragile are these people?

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Are there bad people out there? Sure. Are there racists who voted for Trump? I'm sure there are. Are there racists who voted for Hillary? I'm sure there are. But this idea that Trump's win has uncorked and triggered some volcanic chamber under the xenophobic psyche of America seems implausible to me. But the fomenting of this fear is part of an increasingly familiar pattern among public officials: something could happen, something might happen. After every act of Islamist terror, public officials trip over each other during frantic runs to the nearest podium to warn people that not all Muslims are terrorists, and we must maintain calm and consideration for our fellow citizens who happen to be Muslim. I don't mind subtle reminders of this in context, but these public officials talk to the rest of us like we're going to beat people up because they follow Islam. It seems to me that the incident in question and its aftermath show the opposite to be true. Similarly, we're told Trump supporters are savages, while we know that the Clinton campaign ran a psy-op to foment violent confrontations at Trump rallies to feed this narrative. We're told to maintain calm and civility, while Trump supporters are savagely beaten by mobs.

If we're in this war for diversity, who's the enemy?

Anonymous said...

"Another Republican might have beaten Hillary by more. But, the truth is, they could not beat Trump"

I disagree. Trump hit Hillary hard on foreign policy(war-mongering) and economic issues(globalism vs nationalism).

All other GOP candidates would have gone soft on that issue. They would not have railed against Wall Street and the War State.

Trump roused up the working class, and he also depressed votes for Hillary because many came to see her as the warfare/Wall Street candidate.

No other GOP candidate was willing to do this.

David Foster said...

Many years ago, in a management class, we had an outside speaker who was a psych professor. He argued for the importance o a kind of 'diversity' that isn't much talked about nowadays...diversity of personality type.

His point was that you will have a strong temptation to hire people who are like yourself, and if you give in to this, you will all share the same blind spots and will happily walk off the cliff together.

A very good point, IMO....and I don't think even a perfect mix of ethnicities, genders, sexual preferences, etc, does much toward addressing it.

Trigger Warning said...

Speculation, of course, like all alternative history (e.g., "Boinie coulda been a contenda!"), but I can't see any other R candidate carrying MI, WI, OH, and PA.

Anonymous said...

Last time the Dems were this mad it was because the Repubs had freed the slaves against their wishes.

Dennis said...

Anon @ November 19, 2016 11:12 PM,

In many ways this is Trump, and by extension the republicans, trying to free the slaves from the Liberal Plantation.

I really would like to see Trump create a group of unpaid, about time they asked not what the country could do for them and starting asking what they could do for their country, business people together to look for ways to best put people back to work and improve the condition for every American. Maybe an Infrastructure bank where the money can only be used for infrastructure (encumbrance accounting.") Maybe extend that to other problem areas such as enterprise zone aimed at rejuvenating areas where large segments of the population that have been left behind or developing educational systems that meet the needs of all of the people.
This does not have to be a government solution, but one that uses the capitalist system to "make American great again." I cannot help, but believe that we have as a country with the wherewithal to actually solve much of the economic suffering that exists without making people slaves to the state/Liberal Plantation. We could release the creativity of people who now know they have a stake in this country succeeding. The great joy most of us have is when we realize we have the ability to deal with life's challenges.
It is about time we addressed immigration reform that considers the needs first of Americans and then those who would be Americans. Solve one and one is well onto solving the other.
As I have stated before my belief that the metaphor "Wall" was meant to push those who represent us to deal with that problem. Do we really want to deport large numbers of people because of the failure of the establishment to deal with this problem. The real enemy here is the government and the establishment not some poor guy fro Costa Rica who did not know he was being used. The sad part for me is that one has to be outrageous to get people to actually think about the damage they are doing to large segments of the American people and large segments of those who would be part of "the melting pot" that is America.
In many ways the "Art of the Deal" may prod people into more reasonable positions. Another reason I suspect that Trump was attempting to create an environment of accommodation and a desire for finding a solution that is acceptable to people of good will. STOP using these people as political pawns.
I am not trying to be poli-annish, but trying to bring people to the idea that we should be looking for solutions and not reasons to hate each other. Creating one American people who respect our Constitution and our culture. This is going to be a difficult task considering the hate and division that epitomizes the undemocratic party and the establishment who gain the most from dividing us.

Ares Olympus said...

Stuart: The vice-president elect cannot sit through a play without being booed from the audience and lectured from the stage.

Words are interesting, and victim playing certainly seems like a universal thing. Trump said the actors "harassesed" Pence. Stuart says they "lectured" Pence.

In this video with a Fox News interview with Pence, anchor Chris Wallace said, more diplomatically, they "addressed" Pence, while the video clip itself says "jeer, lecture" Pence says no need for apology after ‘Hamilton’ jeers, lecture

And Pence himself wasn't offended, and unlike President-elect Trump's demand for an apology, and recommended the musical to all.

So it looks to me that Trump is the only loser in this setting, and that twitter is a poor form of communication, where you start with all your preconceived notions of what happened somewhere, who was wrong, and who needs to apologize.

The same thing happened at a Democratic rally before the election. There was a Trump supporter at a Obama event in North Carolina, and the crowd was booing the protestor. And Obama rather than supporting the audience, lectured them by defending the protestor's right to be there, as long as he wasn't hurting anyone.

And there again, it was Trump's confusion, saying:
“If I spoke the way Obama spoke to that protester, they would say, ‘He became unhinged!’” Trump told supporters “He spent so much time screaming at this protester and frankly, it was a disgrace.”

So if you want to trust your perceptions of reality by Donald Trump, its no wonder people are going to be confused. Now-a-days we have videos of many public events, so we can judge for ourselves what happened, or have a possibility, but people can still be too lazy to even do that before a demand for an apology.

Stuart and others claimed that Obama was the "apology president" making America looking bad for recognizing we sometimes do things we shouldn't be proud of.

Well now it looks like we've elected Obama's polar opposite in Trump, someone who can't not take something personally.

My pastor Sunday morning mentioned the problem humiliating other people, and how corrosive it is to a civilized world, and said it is our job as Christians to help relieve other people's pain when we can, not add to it. Clearly a desire to humiliate others is going on for all sides, and this election shows the result of it - having two candidates for the president of the United States with net disapproval, and each feared by half the country.

I can wonder if the musical cast "humiliated Pence", but at least on the surface Pence has enough depth to not take it personally.

I was thinking on my morning run about "winning", and see I approach life with a different strategy of "not losing". And this isn't a "trophy for all" position, and we do all need to get used to losing things that are important to us. Sometimes there is no compromise position, but sometimes there is, and people who see "winning at all cost" were so desperate to win that we now have a bully-in-chief to lead us.

Trump says we shouldn't be afraid, Pence says we shouldn't be afraid, but I don't see how to not trust someone who "insulted his way to the presidency" and who can't look at the facts before he makes decisions, how can we trust Trump?

Perhaps we'll really have a Pence Presidency, and Trump will just be a twitter-in-chief figure head that Pence can keep helping us reimagine as something else, while running everything behind the scenes.

And maybe there will be more stable personalities in Trump's administration to offset Trump's unstable one. Its a long shot, but its all we got, at least assuming 306 electors actually prefer Trump over all other republicans.