Identity politics in 2018

Identity politics is a term that has been used repeatedly by media pundits and politicians alike. For the past two years, the prevalence of identity politics in the mainstream has been increasing, most notably as a reaction to the policies of the Trump Administration. Identity politics is the association of particular political beliefs with specific groups of people, especially based on race, sexual orientation and gender. Identity politics has led to increased polarization as minority groups—including people of color, the LGBT+ community and immigrants—remain threatened by the Trump Administration’s policies and face marginalization throughout society. In the midterms, Democrats have been appealing to young, progressive and ethnically diverse groups whereas Republicans are targeting white, blue-collar workers.
In recent years, the Democratic Party has used identity politics to garner more support from minority groups, many feeling largely sidelined from mainstream politics. Despite taking a more conservative view on race in previous years, Democrats are now pushing for dialogue and policy surrounding increased tolerance, diversity and equal rights. According to Vox, the Democratic Party is being pushed to promote a liberal view on social issues such as same-sex marriage, rights of transgender people and police brutality. This transition to identity politics is likely being used to draw in more voters as well as to increase resistance to Trump’s polarizing comments and action regarding race, gender and sexuality. By opposing conservative political arguments that attack minority groups and directly reaching out to communities of color, Democrats have traditionally been able to garner more support from minority groups–in doing so, they expand the focus of their politics, which has historically been centered around the white working-class.
Similarly, the Republican party, which has largely been dominated by the words and actions of President Trump, has used identity politics to appeal to the white, Judeo-Christian identity. In a recent survey, the New York Times found that the majority of Republicans expressed anger or anxiety at a potential future where whites are a minority in the U.S. The Republican Party has come under fire from conservatives and liberals alike for their appeals to prejudice, but regardless, throughout the midterm elections, Republican politicians have appealed to white, working-class voters’ resistance to the future of a majority-minority country and aversion to change.
“People are often far more likely to vote based off of their feelings rather than more rational and fact-based thought. However, identity politics has been used long enough that further employment of it will not cause much change in people’s political views,” Junior Catherine Li said.
Identity politics in the midterm elections has taken center stage like never before. The differing appeals and target audiences of the Democratic and Republican Party has highlighted the increased bipartisanship and polarization of the political landscape, marking a shift that will be reflected in voters’ decisions at the ballot box.