The GOP’s White Identity Politics Problem

In response to Avik Roy’s article, The GOP’s White Identity Politics Problem Goes Way Beyond Donald Trump, I wrote:

In the last seven year phrases like identity politics, white privilege, racism, and comparisons to Hitler have become stop words to me. I assume that intelligent conversation is over and without even thinking about it my mind translates everything into blah, blah, blah. This time I will overlook my natural instincts so that I can remind you that the primary focus of these political attacks is the middle class and their idea that every person should have an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and initiative. White identity politics is just another attempt to dumb down the American Dream. The American Dream is color blind but you have to work hard for it.

On the other hand the primary threat to the political class is that as more people of color embrace common sense, personal responsibility, and meritocracy in pursuit of the American Dream, the more likely they will become politically independent. The biggest threat to the Democratic party is that Blacks and Hispanics might start asking Democratic Party leaders what have you done for me recently so that I may achieve the American Dream, too? To maintain party loyalty the Democratic Party is more than willing to whitewash the American Dream to avoid talking about policy failures.

The biggest problem I have with white identity politics is that it diverts your attention from more important issues affecting people of color. It may come as a surprise to some readers but blacks have a bigger problem than other ethnic groups with social class struggles. In his book, Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed, Mr. Riley makes the point that even some black middle class families have kids who are under performing in school because they do not want to accused of being  “white”.  Despite their parents success these kids would rather fail than be seen as “white” or middle class. This is one of many places where black fathers can make a big difference. Then we have the ongoing debate over charter schools versus public schools. Mr. Riley points out that charter schools have been dramatically more successful than public schools at educating black students. Part of their success has to be attributed to their embrace of hard work and meritocracy versus the identity politics plaguing public schools. Ironically identity politics can work against ethnic groups, too.

The second biggest problem I have with white identity politics is that it allows both the Democratic and Republican parties to divert attention away from failed policies and necessary remedies. Whether we see ourselves as Democratic, Republican, or Independent we should be focused on the policies and the political wrangling necessary to build the compromise. Instead the various forms of identity politics divides us and makes the political wrangling much more difficult. It has become passé to say that nothing gets done in Congress nowadays. Identity politics is a pox on both parties and the political process.

My advice to the GOP is to focus their attention on passing policies that reinforce the common sense, personal responsibility, and meritocracy of the American Dream. The American Dream and the economy are issues all ethnic groups support. Never lose sight of the fact that the middle class is the only group who has a vested interest in a well functioning government and economy. Regardless of our ethnic background we all agree, we want our money to be spent wisely. Learn from Mr. Gruber and Ms. Clinton’s failures, do the right thing. If you have to lie to justify your action, you probably do not need to do it.