The 2020 Democratic Primary Might Destroy Identity Politics Once and for All

Joe Biden reacts to a Carson Wentz jersey given to him by then-Sen. Heidi Heitkamp after his speech to the North Dakota Democratic convention in Grand Forks during the 2018 election cycle. As he begins a campaign for the White House in the 2020 cycle Biden faces accusations of behaving inappropriately with a female politician during an event. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

I am not a fan of President Donald Trump’s approach to politics and governing.

I’m talking about style, not necessarily substance. On policy I agree with the Trump administration more often than I disagree, but when you’re the leader of the free world your style matters too. Trump’s tweets make me cringe. His use of fabulism and bombast are too much even by the elastic standards of politics.

Wouldn’t it be delightful if the Democratic primary became such a circus of grievance mongering, such a blizzard of accusations, that identity politics is diminished as a strategy?

But if there is a silver lining to the way the commander-in-chief behaves, it’s that he has sapped the buttresses of political correctness. Trump is so over the top, he has kept the perpetually and professionally angry in a fit of pique for so long, that by the time he leaves the national stage I hope he will have left the shriveled remains of outrage politics behind him.

Desiccated, if not entirely dead.

I hope the 2020 Democratic presidential primary has a similar impact on American politics.

“Gripe, gripe, gripe. Complain, complain, complain. Everybody’s on high alert for anything that could be construed as a snub or some subtle indicator of less respect than someone else,” National Review’s Jim Geraghty wrote recently. “Everybody’s on a hair trigger to call someone out for how their compliment to one person demonstrated their unconscious bias against another person. Every off-the-cuff statement suddenly becomes a symbol of historical injustice.”

“The great irony is that this long process may eventually undermine the power of identity politics, as the surviving Democratic nominee will probably have been accused of racism, sexism, etcetera in the process of winning the primary,” he continued referring to the competition among the Democratic Party’s various candidates for the White House.

Wouldn’t it be delightful if the Democratic primary became such a circus of grievance mongering, such a blizzard of accusations, that identity politics is diminished as a strategy?

I’d very much like to get to a place where we can debate public policy on its merits, as opposed to squabbling endlessly over who is allowed to say what based on things like skin color or gender or sexual orientation.

Perhaps it’s too much to hope for, but a man can dream.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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