Quick Thoughts on Identity Politics, Definition, History: Goldberg, Obama

December 4, 2018


When President Obama and the founding editor of National Review Online agree on something, it might be true.

Identity politics are bad.


. . . Obama is right . . . . Slavery and Jim Crow were indisputably manifestations of identity politics. America’s system of legalized racism was just another form of aristocracy under a different name. And as such, it was a violation of the best ideas of the Founding. Perhaps the single most radical thing about the American Revolution was the decision to reject all forms of hereditary nobility.

It took longer — far too much longer — to recognize the rights and dignity of all Americans, but the idea that you should take people as you find them, and judge them not as a member of a group but as individuals, remains perhaps the greatest part of the American creed, regardless of whether you’re a liberal or a conservative.

3 Responses to “Quick Thoughts on Identity Politics, Definition, History: Goldberg, Obama”

  1. Will S. Says:

    Or they both may be wrong.

    In amy event, Obama has no credibility on identity politics; he stoked the flames of them throughout his presidency.

    As for Goldberg, like Ben Shapiro, Bill Kristol and the rest of the Never-Trump neo-cons, he has never missed an opportunity to criticize the further right in favour of agreeing with progs, “hey wait guys; we’re just like you, see, we agree with you on all the important things, unlike those bad evil meanies further right; please accept us!”, they might as well be saying, with all their virtue-signalling…

    Anyway, regardless of whether identity politics is bad or not, like it or not, it’s here to stay, because of the progs.

    You may not be interested in identity politics, EAC, but identity politics is practiced by the other side, and they win when they do and our side rejects it. Gotta do what Trump did to win; that is, play to win. If that means beating them at their own game, so be it. Unless you want to go back to losing with some amorphous, hazy conception of honour, and letting them destroy your country while you pat yourself on the back for not stooping to their level.


    • I think resolving such philosophical disagreements (and the lengthy conversations that would involve) is probably beyond the scope of a couple of comments here (and beyond the scope of a single column, like the one linked above, for that matter), but I will observe that I think Goldberg has the better of this argument. My political priority has never been a “hazy conception of honour”, but (a) liberty, safeguarded among other things by the American Constitution, democracy (appropriately limited and ordered, including by said Constitution), and America’s culture of ordered liberty, and (b) human flourishing, enabled in large part by said liberty. I opposed the left’s threats to the above, and I opposed Trump’s threats to the same. I am not invested in “wins” for his personal brand and his personal apologists; I do not believe that such “winning” is self-justifying.

      Other than that, I’ll just note that the question of which parties are “virtue signaling”, which are acting most like Progressives, and which are “patting themselves on the back” is itself a matter of dispute, both between the parties and within your own comment.

      • Will S. Says:

        The biggest threats to liberty are (a) the winning of elections by the side that no longer cares in the slightest for liberty, and (b) the replacement of a people who value liberty by a foreign populace who doesn’t value liberty in the same manner.

        The same is true of human flourishing, seeing as, we both agree, such is connected inexorably with ordered liberty.

        Therefore, the culture war is a very real one, and politics is the battleground.

        All is fair in love and war, it is said, and when one side doesn’t fight fair… The other can’t be held back in trying to defeat them by playing by rules to which the other side refuses to adhere.

        We are all Macchiavellians now, or ought to be, because wartime demands it. Sometimes, the ends truly do justify the means, within reason.

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