One family cancelled Thanksgiving dinner so they wouldn’t have to be with pro-Trump relatives. Another family cancelled a Christmas reunion for the same reason. One couple changed the date of their wedding so that a pro-Trump relative wouldn’t be able to attend. Another couple chose to get married in Italy – a place too distant for their relatives to travel to. These are just a few of the ruptures that have followed the election of Donald Trump, as reported by the New York Times.
Are we a deeply divided nation? Maybe. But if we are divided the cause of that division comes squarely from the left, not the right. In virtually every case, the people who are cancelling reunions and refusing to talk to their friends and family members are Hillary supporters. The Times reported not a single instance of a Trump voter shun.
What’s the cause of all this? I think it is identity politics.
Remember, the two candidates ran completely different campaigns. Trump’s campaign was an issues campaign, mainly economic issues. In every speech he gave, he complained about abandoned factories, lost jobs and low wages. Even if he was completely wrong about the cause of those problems (bad trade deals), his was still campaigning on issues.
Hillary Clinton, by contrast, ran a largely issueless campaign. Do you know what her position was on international trade? Of course not. What she said in private was the opposite of what she said in public. On the Pacific trade deal, as a candidate she contradicted everything she said while she was Secretary of State. Her confidants quietly advised worried Wall Street backers that they could safely ignore what was being said publicly on the campaign trail.
But none of that matters because Hillary wasn’t asking people to vote for her because of differences with Donald Trump over trade policy anyway. Or on corporate tax reform. Or school choice. Or safe neighborhoods. Or environmental policy. Or any other policy.
Hillary’ s entire campaign, and the Democratic Party’s approach to elections in general, is based on appeals to people as members of racial, ethnic and sociological groups. Since the days of Franklin Roosevelt, the Democratic Party has approached people as groups, pitted group against group, and promised each to protect them from outsiders. In the Roosevelt era, the appeal was almost exclusively to economic groups.
Today the Democratic party has largely abandoned economic appeals in favor of identity politics. For example, they ask blacks to vote for them because they are black, not because of any policy differences they have with their opponents. And their appeals carry with them an assault on the opposition, either express or implied: The Republican candidate is anti-black. The same approach is used with Hispanics, women, the LGBT community, etc.
For example, here is Michelle Obama telling a black audience they had a duty to vote Democrat, no matter who is on the ticket. (And by implication, no matter what the candidate stands for or what he or she would do once in office.) Her husband was even worse. I have cited many examples in previous posts at Town Hall. (See “Which Is the Party of Hate.”) But you can check it out for yourself. Just Google the words “Obama” and “race baiting” and see how many links pop up.
Now if the election were covered fairly, it would be obvious that one side is talking about issues and the other is not. But as I pointed out last week, the mainstream media viewed the entire election the same way Hillary Clinton did. Even Fox News spent almost the entirety of election night talking about how many blacks were voting versus whites, or women versus men – as if demography were destiny at the polls.
An example of someone who has completely bought into the Democratic Party’s view of the world is Lee Drutman, who has a rather lengthy article explaining why the political fault line between the two parties are based on race and identity and why that is likely to continue for years to come. Much of what he says is correct. But it describes Democrats, not Republicans.
Identity politics works on some voters. I have heard stories of women who break down crying at the mere mention of the election results. Are they crying because NAFTA may be renegotiated? Or the pipeline may be built? Of course not. If elections are about identity, then elections are about you in a very personal way. If the other candidate wins, you have been personally rejected. I would probably cry too if I were naïve enough to believe all that.
As I pointed out last week, Donald Trump uttered not one word during the election that was anti-black, anti-Semitic or anti-gay. Although he may have been insensitive, he really never said anything that was anti-Hispanic. In fact, it’s just the opposite. See this post by Scott Alexander on what Trump really did say, along with the finding that Trump did much better among minorities than either Romney or McCain.