Identity Politics as a Middle Class Truck Stop

It seems like everyone became an activist in 2016. This is understandable because, as others have said more precisely and eloquently, those of us who veer left were quite comfortable during the Obama years. No, he was not the sickle-bearing revolutionary certain talk show hosts wanted him to be, but he was our first Black president and he at least stood as a kind of road sign pointing towards what a more progressive United States might possibly look like. Then the right struck back and so many who had maybe thought the Republican party, and its conservative Christian nucleus, at least tolerable took an ice bath and had to own up to the fact that they had elected a fleshy, hate-belching blob to the presidency.

Again as others have said more precisely and eloquently, 45’s damage was dealt more to the psyche of the nation and less to the structure and function of the government. That remains blissfully in tact, serving the needs of the wealthy and their empire. No, what the previous president did was wring liberal tears out of the cloth of the nation and, in kind, everyone on the other side got online or into the streets and let him know that, no sir, they were not here for it.

This primarily revolved and revolves still around the exploding industry of identity politics. As I understand it, this is forming your political activity and allegiance around your personal sense of self (ie gender, sexuality, race, feeling, etc) rather than a particular party or political ethos. This is okay. We all do it and it is of vital import that all humans of all kind are heard and given the fullest extent of their rights in this nation. Furthermore it behooves such a nation as grants said rights to reckon with the hatreds embedded within it — to be, for example, anti-racist rather than merely not-racist.

However.

The image that sticks in my mind and will not leave is that of a bunch of economically comfortable people sitting on the side of the road, discussing how they feel about all of this as the bosses speed away in Mad Max-style trucks with all the money and the power. We can buy our “love is love” shirts and change our profile pics and, yes, we must support our marginalized friends in all ways possible, but my concern is that this is where the the activism stops.

The vulnerable will get more face time and those who dislike said groups will reel and the heaving back and forth will continue, but actual political and economic pressure will continue grinding to a halt, largely because the left has gotten far, far away from worker’s rights.

The bosses, both in politics and the marketplace, can perpetuate their vice grip and we may not care as much as long as Amazon flows a rainbow flag or Target showcases Black entrepreneurs. At the end of the day, though, without organization and a move away from capital, all of us will suffer even if we suffer equally.

But what do I know?

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