“People who think with their epidermis or their genitalia or their clan are the problem, to begin with. One does not banish this specter by invoking it. If I would not vote against someone on the grounds of ‘race’ or ‘gender’ alone, then by the exact same token I would not cast a vote in his or her favor for the identical reason. Yet see how this obvious question makes fairly intelligent people say the most alarmingly stupid things.” – Christopher Hitchens
Identity politics are politics that are first and foremost based on how you identify with a politician. Unfortunately, your average voter is a sucker for identity politics, which is the entire electoral strategy of the American Left. Every horrible political policy that gains traction does so by appealing to the base emotion of the electorate and appealing to innate or assumed traits of the individual such as ethnicity, gender, etc.
Are you a mother? A Latino person? Black, Asian, Gay, Straight, non-binary? A farmer? A city-dweller? These are all ways in which someone might identify themselves within a collective. Identity politics aren’t about policy, but rather about your position within a collective. In this post-modern age of neo-Marxism, your value as a human being is defined by how many oppression points you have. The more identity boxes that you check, the higher your value in society.
If you oppose identity politics you will swiftly receive any number of labels that your ideological opposition can muster against you. The term Nazi comes to mind. Ironically, the Nazis specialized in identity politics. Adolf Hitler understood the power in scapegoating entire populations based on their identities and not their contributions to the world or their ideas. These people who throw around these labels so flippantly fail introspection enough to see that it is they who operate as Nazis.
As I write this the headlines of Idaho newspapers are filled with denunciations of Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin’s taped speech at the America First Political Action Conference or AFPAC. AFPAC coincided with the GOP mainstream Conservative Political Action Conference or CPAC, this past weekend. The headlines refer to AFPAC as a white nationalist event and cite the Southern Poverty Law Center as proof of the label. Never mind that the Christian organization, the Family Research Council, and any number of other conservative organizations are listed as hate groups by the SPLC. For critics’ purposes, they will suffice as the origin of labels.
I tuned in to a few speeches at the CPAC competing AFPAC event. I would certainly label it as a hodgepodge of alternate viewpoints that only seem to agree on the idea of America First. There were black, white, Asian, Hispanic, and Jewish men and women featured.
White nationalism espouses the superiority of white people, and nothing of the sort was said. This is not to be confused with replacement theory, which asserts that some actors seek to reduce the influence of white people in society by maligning them. Replacement theory adherents assert that things like unfettered immigration and critical race theory campaigns are about supplanting the white population and equating whiteness to an inherently toxic trait. In this regard, any rational person would have a hard time arguing against their assertions. But it’s not the white people that actors wish to replace. They wish to replace the classically liberal ideas like freedom and individuality that they espouse.
“The mistake that replacement theory adherents make is to wear the labels that the left adorns them with”
The mistake that replacement theory adherents make is to wear the labels that the left adorns them with, which in actuality is the point. There is a knee-jerk reaction for those accused of whiteness to wear the label as if it is a thing. In reality, there is no such thing as whiteness. This is a rhetorical strategy called the Kafkatrap. Your denial of an accusation is evidence thereof.
The closest thing that I watched to a celebration of whiteness at AFPAC was a speech by Jesse Lee Peterson. Peterson is a black 72-year-old conservative radio host and pastor. Peterson self-designated July as white history month to recognize the historical accomplishments of white people. It should be noted that Peterson does so tongue-in-cheek and as a meme of our insistence to recognize the accomplishments of all collectives, except the white collective. It is Peterson’s assertion that racism is nothing more than a form of evil, and that only good and evil exist.
My purpose in tuning in was to hear what politicians like Janice McGeachin and Marjorie Taylor Greene had to say, as well as to listen to the speech from Gab.com CEO Andrew Torba. White nationalism was not espoused and accusations to the contrary are just catering to the stupid. If you found yourself caught up in the outrage, you might be the intended audience. This is not to say that all speakers placated my sensibilities.
Saying things that every conservative agrees with is what CPAC is for. At AFPAC there was a heavy emphasis on America First policies like finishing the border wall, abstaining from foreign intervention, and election integrity. There were also ideas like a decentralized parallel economy, a return to classical liberalism, and most importantly for me, a revival of the Church in America. Many speakers saw the success that Donald Trump had in being a thorn in the side of the government establishment and did their best to imitate his success with all of the boisterous rhetoric, but with no platform from which to accomplish their ideas. In that regard, I tuned out.
Identity politics is an effective strategy in America. A majority of voters are susceptible to the lure of slanderous and libelous accusations against political opposition. Having seen the success of the American left, much of the right has adopted this strategy. This is why Governor Brad Little and establishment Republicans within the government have made coordinated press and social media statements denouncing Janice McGeachin’s alleged participation in white nationalism. This coordinated response is called virtue signaling because they’re putting their righteousness on display for the world to see, and juxtaposing their ideological purity against their bigoted political opposition.
Identity politics caters to the intellectual bottom feeders of society. So long as we’re employing and consuming this strategy, we’ll be left with the results of exactly what we vote for. A minimum of intellectual honesty and research goes a long way in electing better candidates and resultingly, achieving better policy.