Columbia professor Mark Lilla argues in the NYT “One of the many lessons of the recent presidential election campaign and its repugnant outcome is that the age of identity liberalism must be brought to an end.”
A convenient liberal interpretation of the recent presidential election would have it that Mr. Trump won in large part because he managed to transform economic disadvantage into racial rage — the “whitelash” thesis. This is convenient because it sanctions a conviction of moral superiority and allows liberals to ignore what those voters said were their overriding concerns. It also encourages the fantasy that the Republican right is doomed to demographic extinction in the long run — which means liberals have only to wait for the country to fall into their laps. The surprisingly high percentage of the Latino vote that went to Mr. Trump should remind us that the longer ethnic groups are here in this country, the more politically diverse they become.
An alternate interpretation is that while 2016 may indeed mark the end of “identity liberalism,” or at least its decline despite capturing a majority of votes (thanks, Electoral College!), it also marks the success of “identity conservativism” after the victory of an explicitly racist and sexist candidate. (As a point of reference with respect to Latinos, an estimated 79 percent voted for Clinton). In other words, the biggest identity group exploited an explicitly anti-democratic system it created to cling to power.
What do you think?