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Thornton Hall

The Revolution Will Be Kuhnian.

Two Years Ago I Said What Everyone Is Now Saying About "Identity Politics"

In January of 2015, I said:

I have tried to point out that voters act not according to ideology, that is, "a system of ideas", but rather view the world through their identity and interests and therefore come up with a hodge-podge of policy preferences. Voters look to leaders with whom they identify, who they imagine have similar interests, for expertise in matters they are not overly familiar with.

Now comes Matt Yglesias writing in November 2016 in Vox:

The reality, however, is that politics is not and will never be a public policy seminar. People have identities, and people are mobilized politically around those identities. There is no other way to do politics than to do identity politics.

Way back in June of 2014, I said: 

Inside countries, politics is the fights between interests and identities. Rural whites want different stuff from urban multi-racial folks. Neither group has a system of ideas where, eg, "small town values like God and family" are systematically coherent with "govt shouldn't provide health care to poor black people."


That regional divide is key to understanding what happened in 2016. A Republican Party that was broadly identified with religious Southerners nominated a secular Northerner who was not identified with the Republican Party leadership. Not surprisingly, that helped him win the votes of secular Northerners who’d traditionally distrusted the Republican Party. Meanwhile, his campaign very much emphasized whiteness as a theme, and in an ultimately failed effort to win the votes of traditionally Republican-leaning white women in the suburbs, his opponent joined with him in dissociating the Trump agenda from the Republican Party we’ve known for years.

The Cyclical Relevance of Southern History (which is, itself, cyclical)

Which Elites Are They Complaining About?