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Coffee House US Election

Donald Trump played the identity politics game – and won

9 November 2016

8:12 AM

9 November 2016

8:12 AM

I feel a strange sense of schadenfreude mixed with a heavy dose of terror and uncertainty now that the American people have elected someone with no experience whatsoever who tweets things like this:

On the plus side: LOLs at liberals in my timeline.

On the minus: Potential global upheaval/depression/war.

So, swings and roundabouts.

The BBC were just now asking about Trump’s famous plan for a wall with Mexico, still presenting it as a hugely controversial idea. This always struck me as a pretty strange focus; walls and high fences are used all over the world, in Israel, Tunisia, Kenya and India, and they’re very effective. Border control is fairly easy, as is stopping the flow of illegal immigration, if the will is there. It’s also the most basic function of the state, which voters expect just as they expect the police to maintain order in the streets; it’s hardly surprising that if the authorities don’t do their job, people turn to vigilantes of questionable virtue.

The border is the least of the world’s worries about Trump; far more concern, for me anyway, is his opposition to free trade, the worry that he would hand over eastern Europe to Russia, his climate scepticism and a slight suspicion that he’s mentally unbalanced.

What’s slightly galling is the lack of self-reflection from people who played a huge part in this. It makes me sad how ruthlessly the US media tore apart a gentleman like Mitt Romney, how they’ve cried wolf repeatedly and how the term ‘white’ has become used as a term of insult in the identity-politics obsessed US media. Tell people over and over again that they are moral deviants tainted by ancestral guilt who will soon be a minority in their own country – and deserve it – what’d do you expect? Shame people for having unacceptable views and soon all that will be left are the shameless.


As the superforecaster Michael Story first observed, social justice warriors ‘overused the antibiotics of shame, bred bio-resistant Trumps.’

Trump seems to have survived by refusing to submit when his opponents took offence and attempted to shame him into backing down, a tactic that has been hugely successful against conservatives in the past.

But Trump is also the triumph of identity politics. For years the punditry have been saying that the GOP is finished because America is becoming more diverse, failing to see that since the Democrats win through identity politics, then Republicans could also play that game. Back in 2000 the blogger Steve Sailer observed that the Republicans could win with the low-hanging fruit of a white middle-class increasingly alienated by the Democratic Party’s ‘coalition of the fringes’, and he seems to have been proved right.

Identity politics is poison for a democracy, but as this chap says:

Or in the words of Reagan biographer John O’Sullivan:

Today there will be anger, fear and projection, and tomorrow the Democrat media will be back to the same old tedious identity politics. I sometimes wish the French had won the Seven Years War.

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7im-nov-2016-970x250-v2After the American people have voted, what next for the US and the rest of the world? Join panellists including Sir Christopher Meyer, KCMG, former British ambassador to the US, for a discussion chaired by Andrew Neil on 30 November at RIBA, London. Tickets include a drinks reception. In association with Seven Investment Management. Book now.

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