American politics have become overwhelmed with bitterness and nastiness. The very structure of our Constitutional Republic is under constant attack. Fake news promoted as being factual runs rampant on social media platforms. Both major political parties point the finger, accusing each other of lying and deceiving the general public. President Trump is under frequent personal attack by those on the progressive left, with the progressives accusing the President of being a racist, but it's worth pointing out this divide in American politics began way before Trump took office. The so-called culture wars started during the Bush Jr era, and only got worse during the Obama Admininstration. The political dysfunction we are experiencing is not so much a failure where specific individuals are concerned, but rather a total breakdown of our political culture and its institutions (some refer to that as the collectivism).
These days, many of those on the political right along with some of those on the left (aka the classic liberals) are the main ones who are bringing this cultural divide to the forefront and attempting to think up viable solutions, but in all fairness identity politics tends to be something we observe others engaging in while failing to recognize we too are doing the same thing. Identity politics is not exclusive to just one side, it stretches across the political spectrum and warps our self-understanding.
Our heated political discussions have narrowed down to three competing identity theories in America, three versions of how our varied backgrounds and personal experiences should be shaping our politics. The first of these perceived identities, mostly common on the left, views politics as a continuous struggle among the races, and believes the only solution to bridge that gap is to attempt to make equal all outcomes in life. The second, more common on the right, insists such a distinction in politics is not between the races but rather the legality of citizens, and how illegal immigrants can potentially shape society in negative ways. The third, which is pretty much comprised of the wealthy elite from both parties, believes the other two are largely irrelevant and only serve as a means to keep them (the elites) in positions of authority. Each one of those are unstable, as each views the other two as being un-American without so much as genuinely trying to understand them. This is what's driving the present polarization, and the solution certainly is not another more improved theory of identity. A good start would be to question some of our philosophical views, and perhaps look to the institutions that can form a concrete and functional civic society. One that can work in practice as well as theory. All sides must seek to better understand the dilemma of identity politics in America so that maybe some day we all can rise above our differences.
The main tools used to sow seeds of division are fear and hatred, as when someone irrationally fears another hatred and prejudice can and often do set in, and when people are pitted against one another it becomes easy for the elites to manipulate that fear and thus maintain their positions of authority. The religious individuals out there probably won't like me much for bringing this up, but the defacto motto of the US, which was E Pluribus Unum, never should have been replaced with In God We Trust. Loosely translated E Pluribus Unum means out of many (we are) one, and up until the time that motto was phased out a majority of Americans lived by that attitude. Before the 1960's or so people cared about one another and came together to think up solutions to our problems, and political identity didn't seem to matter as much. That was just one example off the top of my head, and how something as simplistic as a national motto can cause division.
The problem with identity groups is that such is not exclusive to politics, indeed the division has also spread into professional sports and the public education system. In the world of professional sports such as the NFL and NBA, the players are all but forced into going along with the social justice warrior outrage mob's (like Black Lives Matter) requirements to combat systemic racism, and if a player so much as takes a neutral stance they get ostracized. The public education system has become a politically correct progressive indoctrination machine, teaching our youths what to think instead of how to critically think on their own. If you have a school-aged child then I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. If your child so much as merely openly quotes the Second Amendment of the US Constitution and the wrong person hears it, your kid could face detention or suspension and afterwards many counseling sessions with the school's psychologist.
Identity politics began and strengthened in the shadows nearly five decades ago, long before Trump took office, so it's hardly fair to accuse him of starting the identity divide. The founders of leftwing identity politics were heavily influenced by Marxist ideology, and such thinking inevitably made its way into US colleges and universities. College administrators who were opposed to such ideology faced consistent intimidation and public shaming until they caved into demands from the identity radicals, and now it has gotten to a point where discussions on college campuses are one-sided, in favor of progressive identity politics. As for identity politics on the right? Identity groups appear to be mostly centered on different religious beliefs, which can be and is another source of division, but that could be a topic for a future post perhaps.
That's the identity politics debate summed up. The question remains, will we continue down the path of factionalism in the name of eradicating perceived systemic racism and passive bias, or do we reorder society along the path of critical thinking regardless if some views are considered unpopular? In the meantime, the culture war rages on with no conceivable end in sight. If something doesn't give soon, I fear the future generations will be in store for some truly dark and trying times.