We know too well the proclivities of one Donald Trump, who surely represents the nadir of identity politics. His 2016 victory was sealed by his early recognition of identity anxiety on the right and the perception that whites were losing their place in the hierarchy of American society. Trump came, saw and conquered against all odds because he understood what Southern politicians have always understood — the collective id. His evil genius was in plumbing the depths of that id and liberating the latent bias there through his bigot-baiting gibes at Mexicans, Muslims and others.
To those involved in recent identity movements, such posturing by whites may seem ludicrous. The beneficiaries of white privilege, after all, don’t get to whine about injustice. Yet, as Caucasians see their numbers dwindling amid projections of their near-future minority status, they might well feel diminished or threatened. How one deals with those feelings is a function of many factors, but a great leader inspires the angels of our better selves rather than the demons of our basest instincts.
Obviously, Trump chose the latter path.