But in the end, the election is a choice between two radically different visions of the future. Despite all his braggadocio and boorish behavior, Trump’s policies have been quite conventional Republican ones, albeit with a significant veer toward protectionism more recently typical of pro-labor Democrats. There is also an obvious return to nationalism. But nationalism, as long as it relies on democratic institutions and a healthy civil society, is not all bad. As long as a benign, positive nationalism puts citizenship, and no other restricted form of identity, at its core, it can actually help heal the awful divisions in the country.
On the other hand, the Democratic Party’s drift toward bigger government and more radical forms of identity politics has continued unabated. The obsession with “diversity, inclusion and equity” at all costs has greatly contributed to the rise of the “woke” cultural phenomenon. Its ideology, as brilliantly exposed by Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay in Cynical Theories, is truly frightening. In the name of “social justice,” it divides people into narrow group identities, fostering their grievances and exacerbating divisions. It denies individual merit and considers any difference in outcome, any form of inequality, to be based exclusively on racism, sexism or another kind of phobia. It is deeply anti-capitalist, and it holds our most important constitutional principles as illegitimate as long as they help preserve the very inequalities it decries. It has the potential to become deeply anti-Semitic and anti-Asian, simply because individuals in these groups are “too successful” relative to their proportion in the total population.
This awful, totalitarian, ideology has spread way beyond academia, where it started, and has now infected most of our leading cultural institutions. This is the case with the Times, the outlet most followed by our elites, now shamed by its “1619 Project” fiasco.