Losing Their Critical Advantage

Mark Lilla writes a great analysis of the rise of identity politics in the Wall Street Journal,  The Liberal Crackup

All that began to change when the New Left shattered in the 1970s, in no small part due to identity issues. Blacks complained that white movement leaders were racist, feminists complained that they were sexist, and lesbians complained that straight feminists were homophobic. The main enemies were no longer capitalism and the military-industrial complex; they were fellow movement members who were not, as we would say today, sufficiently “woke.”

It was then that less radical liberal and progressive activists also began redirecting their energies away from party politics and toward a wide range of single-issue social movements. The forces at work in healthy party politics are centripetal; they encourage factions and interests to come together to work out common goals and strategies. They oblige everyone to think, or at least to speak, about the common good.

In movement politics, the forces are all centrifugal, encouraging splits into smaller and smaller factions obsessed with single issues and practicing rituals of ideological one-upmanship. Symbols take on outsize significance, especially in identity-based movements.

The results of this shift are now plain to see. The classic Democratic goal of bringing people from different backgrounds together for a single common project has given way to a pseudo-politics of self-regard and increasingly narrow and exclusionary self-definition. And what keeps this approach to politics alive is that it is cultivated in the colleges and universities where liberal elites are formed. Here again, we must look to the history of the New Left to understand how this happened.


The Republicans were weakened by their litany of litmus tests.  The pro life crowd, the school prayer crowd, or the gun rights advocates would be intolerant of any variation from the orthodox position on THEIR issue. The Democrats were unified and won elections even with less than 50% of the vote.

Now the Democrats have fractured themselves and lost what was a critical advantage.

The Quicksand of Optimism

from the WSJ and William Galston,  What Would Madison Do About the Budget?

When it comes to government, I am a die-hard Madisonian. The chief intellectual architect of our constitutional order knew that public officials would always be torn between self-interest and concern for the common good. And he knew that in times of conflict, reason would often give way to passion. Political institutions, he concluded, should not be built on the quicksand of optimism about human nature. Instead, they should accept human beings as they are and channel the mixed motives of public officials toward promoting the public good.

James Madison also understood that nothing wrought by human beings can be perfect, let alone timeless. When circumstances change in unexpected ways, our institutions must change as well—or risk conducting the people’s business far less effectively. So it was that the man who originally opposed adding a Bill of Rights to the Constitution ended up as its author. So it is that we the people have amended our Constitution 27 times.

The Identity Politics Cop-out

from the editors of The Wall Street Journal, The Poison of Identity Politics

Yet the focus on Mr. Trump is also a cop-out because it lets everyone duck the deeper and growing problem of identity politics on the right and left. The politics of white supremacy was a poison on the right for many decades, but the civil-rights movement rose to overcome it, and it finally did so in the mid-1960s with Martin Luther King Jr. ’s language of equal opportunity and color-blind justice.

That principle has since been abandoned, however, in favor of a new identity politics that again seeks to divide Americans by race, ethnicity, gender and even religion. “Diversity” is now the all-purpose justification for these divisions, and the irony is that America is more diverse and tolerant than ever.

Clarifying Wage Growth

from The Wage Paradox Explained from the Wall Street Journal

So why haven’t wages risen faster amid an increase in hiring and unfilled jobs? One answer is that wages have actually been growing at a faster clip—around 4% to 5%—at least for full-time workers with steady jobs. But new full-time workers who are generally paid less than the retirees they replace are dragging down the average wage increase.

 Researchers at the San Francisco Fed this week updated their 2016 paper that disaggregated the wages of full-time workers with steady employment from recent entrants—that is, new workers or those returning to full-time work. Their earlier analysis showed that average wage growth had slowed less than expected during the recession while staying relatively flat during the recovery.

That’s because workers who lost jobs during the recession were generally lower skilled and lower paid, so average weekly wages didn’t fall significantly. However, many of those workers have since been rehired at below-average wages, which has depressed the aggregate.


There is a problem with aggregate data and averages. Stagnant wages are not necessarily the result of no wage increase, but the result of new lower paid hires replacing older higher paid workers. Continuous full timer workers are experiencing decent wage growth.

Social Media and Our Political Divide

from Selena Zito,  Judgey about the way people dress? You’re killing America

Spend one hour in the mile-long factory, which is sited to take advantage of both the region’s rich clay soil, perfect for making ceramics, and the skills passed on from one generation to another, and you understand intellect and talent do not have to come from a four-year institution.

Value and virtue in your work comes from a variety of skills, education and experience.

Fifteen years ago, we didn’t know what people who weren’t like us were thinking, because they were not around us, explains Dane Strother, a Democratic strategist.

“Facebook and 24-hour news and a plethora of news stations and social media has brought focus to those differences. It’s the first time different Americans have ever looked up and seen each other every day. And neither one likes what the other one is seeing,” he says.

Stereotypes are peculiar things. They make targets out of those who are different, be it in language or traditions. And it appears Appalachia remains the last minority population in America for which it is socially acceptable to question intelligence, speech pattern, the way people dress. Their uniqueness.


A great and simple explanation of how social media has caused our divisions by making the opposition more visible.  Coastal elitist attitudes that were ignored by the working class are now insulting them on Facebook everyday.  Contempt is made visible. Insulting stereotypes are harder to ignore.

The left does not like what they see in the opposition, not do they accept the reflection of themselves.  They seek to explain by insulting and demonizing, which only drives bigger partisan wedges.