The party of identity politics needs to identify Trump voters

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identity-politics-aYou have to name it before you can deal with it. That is sound advice often given by psychologists, sociologists, medical doctors, in fact virtually everyone who engages in try to solve problems. Auto mechanics do it and so do baseball pitching coaches.

One interpretation of what happened electorally in America in 2016 as that too many of us just became sick of “identity politics.” That means that they turned away from the Democratic Party. For generations, Democrats have been the party of “the colored, Negros, Blacks, Afro-Americans, African-Americans” as well as “Hispanics, Latinos” and other ethnic minorities. Democrats have also been the party of the young and the old, as well as of women.

But none of these categories describe a large portion of those who voted for Donald Trump for president. Hillary Clinton attached a moniker to some of them, “deplorables,” but that is neither accurate nor helpful.

Maybe blue collar workers is a more appropriate term. Others prefer “working class” because it seems to describe a lot of people who have daily jobs. But there are a lot of people who are salaried rather than working for wages or are also “working.”

In order to correctly identify this group, we need one or several terms that meet two criteria: (1) the people being described are comfortable with it, and (2) the people outside of that group know who is being described.

There never has been a politically correct term for white people. Perhaps one reason for that is that whites still make up a majority of the American people. This seems to entitle whites to be the “we” and any or all of the others to be “them.”

The difficulty in coming up with a clear name for Trump voters (and that certainly is not a homogeneous group) is what makes it so difficult for Democrats to incorporate them into their plans, their strategies, their way of thinking of creating coalitions from identity groups.

So we are going to suggest two things that Democrats can do now to address the problem:

  1. Begin a process of trying to come up with a name (or names) for the people who felt disenfranchised enough from the Democratic Party to vote for Trump, and
  2. Named or unnamed for now, help Democrats include them in their basket of constituent groups. These voters need to be seen as people in need of the services and policies that Democrats bring; not as “other people” who we only view as scapegoats.

So below is a quick survey of possible names for the “Trump people” who have not been included in the recent panoply of “identity groups” who are part of the Democratic coalition. By the way, if Democrats can include the Trump voters in their constituencies, then maybe we can reach the ultimate goal of moving beyond identity politics and including all of us as part of “we.”

Acceptable “identity” names for Trump voters:

We will report results of this survey to you no later than Wednesday, December 15, 2016.

Arthur Lieber Arthur Lieber (477 Posts)

Since 1969, Arthur Lieber has been teaching and working in non-profit educational organizations. His focus has been on promoting critical, creative, and enjoyable learning for students in informal settings. In the 2010 mid-term elections, he was the Democratic nominee for US Congress from Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District.