Identity Politics, Purposeful Polarization and Problem Resolution

Queen of Hearts chopping headsTear down all those monuments too!!!!

The polarization virus spreads.

Now it’s Horatio Nelson.  Move over Robert E. Lee.

Who’d have thought it?

Well, actually, quite a few of us did.  Many of us who did are democratic socialists (not right wing conservatives) utterly opposed to slavery and bigotry but that won’t matter, “their” brush only has one color with which we’ll be spattered too.

In the name of relieving trauma to the descendants of slaves (or their acquaintances or people who’ve read novels with slavery as a subplot), the mainstream media – Clinton – Democrats coalition have called for the destruction of all vestiges of the antebellum South (to start with).  It offends their cynical sensibilities, at least right now, and it’s oh so useful too.  Useful in their scorched earth tactics to bring down the government of the man they failed to defeat in the polls.  Remember?  The one who refused to accept a pre-election oath to accept the results no matter what, right after the electoral shenanigans during the 2016 Democratic Party primaries (treason that was called you might recall)?  Remember when it was the Sanderistas alleging that their votes had been stolen, the voting rolls hacked to assure victory for the as yet and still as yet, still uncrowned dowager queen, she whose time had come?

“Damn!!  Memory is inconvenient.  Those who manage to retain it make it oh so difficult to efficiently change rules and facts and history when to do so could prove so convenient.  What a waste when the mainstream media is so safely ensconced in our pockets.  Need to do something about anything that might help preserve it.  We need creative flexibility, it’s our art form.” (Excerpt from a possibly fictional DNC promotional manual)

“So, tear down the monuments, they offend the sensibilities we need to exacerbate in order to create the events that will generate the energy necessary to obfuscate the problems that the groups we need might decide we are not all that interested in resolving.  Blessed incoherence and hypocrisy, when properly framed, create such useful narratives.  Unbounded by facts and truth one can argue what one wants, turning on dimes to keep our opponents off balance, they’re stuck in straightjackets woven of inconvenient facts, we’re not.  Like fictional South Park’s Eric Cartman, we can say and do what we want.” (Ibid)

So, enough ranting and raving, justifiable though it may be; and of speaking as though I were a ventriloquist and the ubiquitous “they” my dummies.  They’re not dummies, just malevolent.

The brand of Identity Politics still prevalent despite its devastating failure during the last electoral cycle needs to be “identified” for what it is: not honest concern for those whose rights have been violated for so long and whose opportunity for self-realization has been blocked by bigots and racists and xenophobes and sexists, but rather, the cynical use of such vulnerabilities to generate optimal polarization, setting everyone against everyone else, hopefully with violent confrontations and victims who can be morphed into martyrs which, if carefully managed and manipulated with the help of a pliable mainstream media, can be used to pave the road back to political power.  A mouthful but it just about covers current realities.

Identity Politics is nothing more and nothing less than a cynical political tactic by cynical political leaders who would use any person, any group or any idea to recover the power they deem their birthright and which they have “historically” abused to advance their neoliberal agenda, betraying those they’ve so successfully manipulated in the past.  Identity Politics: dividing us into malleable groups based on the things that if properly tweaked can most offend us.  Now that Russiagate and its ancillaries, Russians invade the Ukraine and Russians invade Syria may have run their fictional course, it’s time to return to the tactics tried and true, the home of the brave and the red, white and blue (but set in stripes not bars).

Remember when politics was about discussing issues, consequences, effects and negative campaigning was frowned upon rather than being the rule?  When mutual respect rather than personal destruction was the norm?  I don’t either, although I seem to have heard such a time once existed, probably only an interlude though, but who knows, history changes so fast now, not sequentially, that’s passé.  Manipulation of history and destruction of its memorabilia are now Identity Politicians’ weapons of choice.  You know, black power and sexual choice advocates like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer who understand the pain caused by poverty and discrimination, “they’ve heard stories about them”, the heirs of those who’ve “felt our pain” and doing so made it pretty big, politically and economically (although they’ve not quite been able to orchestrate their return to the Big White House at the beginning of Pennsylvania Avenue that they view as their once and future ancestral home).

The goal now appears to be to goad insecure whites (mainly males, two birds with one stone and all that) into reactions that can then be abused for political purposes.  To encourage violent confrontations in the name of criticizing the violence they themselves set up and then defaming anyone who criticizes the violence generically rather than “selectively”.  It is now politically incorrect to criticize violence promoted by the mainstream media – Clinton – Democrats coalition, only criticism of violence, staged or otherwise, that promotes their agenda is permissible, all other criticism will be painted as neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic and immoral, and very, very loudly and very, very often, with appropriate ridicule and iconography.  Paint them all with the same brush, regardless of how divergent their causes, their goals or their purposes.  All who oppose Identity politicians are by definition neo-Nazis seeking a return to slavery, white power white nationalists and closet Ku Klux Klanners, maybe pro-Russian pinko commies too.  Xenophobes, racists, sexists and pedophiles.  All who follow the mainstream media – Clinton – Democrats coalition, no matter how violent or intolerant, are incredibly brave and selfless innocent, idealists.

It is, of course, deliberate and very counter-productive polarization directed initially at the well to do son of immigrants who never owned slaves by the followers of a former Goldwater girl.  Ironic.  And distracting, as it should be, at least from the Identity Politics cynic’s perspective.

One might wonder why and there would be two primary answers:

  • First to distract from their failure as political leaders of the coalition their predecessors formed almost a century ago but which they betrayed twenty-five years ago in favor of Wall Street and Hollywood, money and parties; twenty five years ago when they decided, through purported welfare reform and anticrime legislation, to court the votes of those they now claim to disdain.
  • Next and most importantly, to snatch back the power their incoherent political stratagems and their more incoherent queen lost, something they can’t quite believe took place. After all, it had all been so carefully and so ruthlessly set up.  Consequences be damned, whether racial war at home or nuclear holocaust abroad.  Democracy to them is but a game of thrones orchestrated with smoke and mirrors.

Time for another rave and rant, this one in the form of a concluding paragraph made up of tastelessly mixed metaphors, similes, allusions, allegory, etc.  It somewhat releases stress, kind of like smashing a tennis ball without a care about whether a point is lost or scored.

“Out damned spot” and “damned be he that first cries hold, enough”.  First they came for Lee and now they’ve come for Nelson, can Washington and Jefferson be far behind, and then of course John Calvin and Martin Luther, white supremacist anti-Semites both, and when the pendulum swings, Martin Luther King, Jr. too.  And anyone who once formed a step in our evolutionary quest to rid ourselves of racism and xenophobia and anti-Semitism and Islamophobia and sexism but was not quite perfect enough.  All monuments offend someone so “off with their heads” and their bodies too, and culture tends to be divisive so Fahrenheit 451, where are you.  Globalization will erase all our differences, homogenization the rule.  Maybe then the dowager queen can finally ascend her throne and blow up the world that rejected her, and perhaps blow up her followers too.

Not really the end, but that may be approaching, all too soon.

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2017; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia although he has primarily lived in the United States of America (of which he is a citizen).  Until recently he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at or and much of his writing is available through his blog at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s