I know -- everyone is tired of talking about identity politics -- and for good reason.
It's a poison pill in an already toxic landscape, a conch for the left and a stone in the shoe for the right. It's where political correctness goes to thrive or be smothered, a way to gaslight the opposition through slogans and smugness, hostility and populism.
How the hell did we get here? How did our politics mutate into such prolific and unabashed tribalism? Think about how the landscape looks like right now. The hard left have constructed a sort of boilerplate militancy; a method of attack towards anyone unwilling to abide by their version of modern decency, especially in the realm of identity politics. Meanwhile, the hard right act like science and their racist relatives don't even exist, all while using really bad wordplay to denigrate their political opposites.
In the gladiator arena of social justice, identity politics serves as a high-calibre weapon for progressives eager to force feed a perceived notion of fairness onto the populace, wielded by a hand determined to apply retribution inside the consciousness of the privileged class. To conservatives, identity politics is the ultimate propaganda tool; a vehicle for outrage spawned through university campuses by academic elites whose collective common sense has been replaced by stringent ideology.
Both sides are half right, half insane... and we do not have to choose either side.
The conventional wisdom in modern-day politics is to define these problems through polarization, but this mainstay idea relies on the suggestion of a split between the right and the left when the evidence suggests that we have been traditionally polarized for decades. There now exist two divisions and four total groups of people in the battle of ideas -- two fringe groups on the extreme right and left, and two groups desperately running from both fringes.
The irony is that we used to embrace moderation in politics through the tried-and-true blueprint of being socially liberal, fiscally conservative. Well, we now have the opportunity to merge these classic beliefs into a new construct, one less reliant on orthodoxy, willing to become an ambidextrous sect of voters who care more about actual societal progress than the fortunes of a singular political party.
And if they could ever summon the political will and organize, the two fringes will never control our politics again. Make no mistake, the fringes have taken over... but there is hope now that we have witnessed the damage they have done.
We have an opportunity to use the power of the middle effectively. Voter apathy is shrinking, awareness is growing, and the identity politics war is already dividing the wings. The regressive left and alt-right are destroying our sense of rationalism through violent protests and disgusting behaviour that would be almost unheard of just a short time ago. Most of us are afraid to go against the status quo, but maybe we need to pick up our swords rather than feeling pressured to fall on them.
Because we are better than this.
We can be fair, and just, and reasonable, and rational - especially when we happen to disagree with each other.
We are better than the labels we thrust upon one another. We just need to stop acting like we can read the minds and motivations of people who do not subscribe to our way of speaking, or our way of looking at the world.
We can believe in universal health care and still be capitalists. Just because we do not attach the profit motive to life or death doesn't mean we want to bankrupt the system or get a free ride.
We can criticize someone from a different race, and not be a racist. We can discuss privilege and oppression, but know that we are not necessarily textbook examples of the oppressed or the oppressors.
We can adore our traditions and values, but understand the painful symbolism of things like the Confederate flag. We were not robbed of our heritage by lowering that flag. In fact, we enriched it by proving we understood why it belongs in a museum instead of the top of a courthouse.
We can be incredible supporters of gender equality and still not convict a defendant in a sexual assault case until the jury does. We can be Marie Henein instead of Lena Dunham, and that's OK.
Because we can be fair, and just, and reasonable, and rational -- especially when we happen to disagree with each other.
We are more complex than the gatekeepers of ideologies. But those ideologies are becoming more and more mainstream. Certain concepts on both sides have been stitched into the fabric of our pop culture quilt, and we are afraid to challenge these ideas, all because we do not want to be bullied by the mobs.
But this fight is just beginning. The successful dismantling of extremists will not be easy, or finite. There will always be ideologues. But challenging the alt-right and regressive left has never been more dire; it's a critical component needed to inject a healthy dose of rationalism back into the ether, and with it a viable chance at escaping the gladiator arena unscathed.
Sure, it's a blood sport, but the coliseum is already crowded, and the people are no longer entertained.
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