Over the long term of course the goal is repairing democracy and diminishing intolerance and for this promoting cross-cutting cleavages within civil society and political organizations is absolutely necessary. (Here, recent debates about ideological diversity and the new grassroots activism within the Democratic party is relevant.) Scholars have long recognized the necessity of cross-cutting cleavages to healthy democracy. In his classic study, the Social Requisites of Democracy, Seymour Martin Lipset, for example, noted that “the available evidence suggests that the chances for stable democracy are enhanced to the extent that groups and individuals have a number of cross-cutting, politically relevant affiliations”.

More specifically, research has linked cross-cutting cleavages with toleration, moderation and conflict prevention. This too has implications for contemporary debates about “identity politics”. Perhaps ironically, identity politics is a both more powerful and efficacious for Republicans (and rightwing populists more generally) than it is for Democrats, since the former are more homogeneous.

As long, therefore, as politics is a fight between clearly bounded identity groups, appeals and threats to group identity will benefit Republicans more than Democrats, which is presumably why Steve Bannon infamously remarked that he couldn’t “get enough” of the left’s “race-identity politics”. “The longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em … I want them to talk about race and identity … every day.”