There has been a lot of talk about “identity politics” since the election, too much of it self-serving complaints from arguably the most privileged demographic in America until it was eaten by its own dragons — working-class white men.
I want to remind all of us, especially those among us who profess to be Christian, that what we call “identity politics” is at least as old as the earliest Christian texts:
Matthew 25:31-46 (emphasis mine):
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
I offer this not as a Christian polemic, but as a reminder that the stance of the Democratic Party towards the least among us is a direct consequence of the teachings of Christianity. I don’t know about anyone else, but I find it impossible to reconcile the highlighted portions of the above text with the hostility towards women and minority groups that laces the endless attacks on my party and its last campaign.
Some of us are disparaged for naming the racism, sexism and misanthropy of the Donald Trump campaign and of those who voted for Mr. Trump. I offer this in a similar vein:
Luke 9:1-6 (emphasis mine):
When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.
In my view, during this most recent campaign we Democrats entered the metaphorical house of millions of Americans. A majority of Americans welcomed us. About sixty million Americans did not. When I walk away from those who reject our message, I “leave their town and shake the dust off [my] feet as a testimony against them.”
I agree that we each need to listen to and hear all of us. I think we also need to be clear about what we believe. I believe we need to take people at their word. When we have said our piece, and our audience says “screw you, I want mine first”, then I think the right answer is to “leave their town and shake the dust off [our] feet.”
That may not be good politics, but it is MUCH older than Bill or Hillary Clinton.