While the official definition of identity politics may be “a tendency for people of particular religion, race, social background, etc., to form exclusive political alliances,” a better personification of it would be a bright red sign saying “Turn Back Now.” That is what identity politics does to the people it supposedly helps the most: minority communities.
Many would say that identity politics are for the benefit of minorities, so they can have a platform for their voices to be heard and prioritized. But, that in itself is wrong. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. The same came be said for modern politics. Just because you share similar racial or sexual orientation characteristics with someone doesn’t mean you will automatically agree with them. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a Latina woman just like me, but she couldn’t be further from my end of the spectrum. She doesn’t speak for me. She doesn’t represent my values. No, she is never going to be a candidate that I support. Yet, by identity politics’ standards the two of us should be expected to make the same decisions and vote for the same policies.
This has made the politicians of today lazy and modern movements toxic. Mayoral, congressional, and all Presidential candidates think that if they can exploit their identities enough they can win over entire blocks of people automatically. Beto O’Rourke’s embrace of the Hispanic culture that isn’t his own is the prime example of someone who relied more on a nickname and cumbia music to win over voters than actual policy points. This does a disservice to the minority communities that are being pandered to. Why? Because it means their voices don’t truly matter. Their actual concerns aren’t being heard. They are being told the same handful of talking points that is supposed to give them the cues they need to say, “This candidate is like me, I should vote for them”. The laziness of identity politics is nothing in comparison to the toxicity it has brought though.
When put into practice, identity politics does nothing but rope off an entire side of the political spectrum to a group of people based on nothing more than the color of their skin or sexual orientation. As Americans in our political system, we should all be able to judge political parties and ideologies based off their ideals and our own individual preferences. Thanks to the modern era of identity politics, minorities in the country do not get that privilege. They are told through the mainstream media, through celebrities, and through their circle of friends that only some political ideologies are open to them. To even look at the other side of these acceptable stances is to be a “race traitor.”
This is a stifling environment that doesn’t allow for freedom of thought, expression, or association for minorities. If you are not allowed to even consider certain ideas or stances, you aren’t truly free as an individual at all. When intimidation, shunning, and isolation are used to push someone into a pre-decided box of acceptable behavior, that is not freedom.
Should someone choose to exit this box, you can see the dangers and hostility that will welcome them. Former Representative Mia Love, Candace Owens, Larry Elder, and many more have faced disgusting slurs, horrible media coverage, and hateful protests from those on the left. For what? For putting an R after their name rather than a D. That is the climate and culture that identity politics has encouraged and justified. It is a climate where people or a certain race or background can’t even hold certain beliefs without being considered a “traitor” to their communities. This does nothing but discourage people from making decisions for themselves. Minorities deserve better than talking points, pandering, and veiled threats of isolation. They deserve the chance to think and vote based on their own preferences and values just like anyone else in the country.