If Not Now, When?
Meghan Daum

What the “progressive” Left has missed is that the only moral grounds for analysing privilege and disadvantage, is at the level of the individual. Classical liberalism was about the individual, and any redress necessary was because the rights of humans as individuals, had been violated. Even if the grounds of the violation was their identity, the violation was against the rights of every human as an individual and that is where the remedy lies. Creating “remedies” based on “identity” is merely an equal and opposite evil.

The outcomes for “identity groups” in mostly-free society are always a lot more similar than they are different. They consist of “Bell Curves” that largely overlap, and most people fall in the large part of the Bell Curve. The outliers at both ends tend to be relatively few in number.

Policies aimed at addressing the disparities between identity groups, end up penalising far more people who are merely within the substantial overlap of their “privileged” group with the other group, than there is “help” granted to the relatively small number of people in the Bell Curve “tail” at the bottom end for their disadvantaged identity group.

The people at the very top of the “privileged” identity group will successfully avoid the sanctions, while members of the “disadvantaged” group who are at the top already, will milk the system to the maximum advantage. Those at the very bottom will be the least able to “take advantage”. Solo mothers of color in the ghettoes know little about all the positive discriminations that are supposed to get them ahead in life. Welfare itself is supposed to be “help” but some people know nothing other than to subsist on it.

The only moral policy approach is to help individuals in need of help, based on the circumstances — the state of local economies; family breakdown; health and intellectual disadvantages; being victimised by criminals; whatever. The appeal of Trump’s “political incorrectness” is logical to millions of people who are insulted to be accused of being “privileged”, by Clooney, Steyer, the Clintons, etc, merely because of their skin colour; when they know real struggle in their own lives. Chronic health issues; disabled kids; job loss; suffering a crime; suffering an accident; suffering a natural disaster; loss of parents and relatives; depression; increasing local nuisances such as noise, pollution and youth delinquency. Sure they might be slightly better off than their exact counterpart in another identity group, but they are still themselves well down the Bell Curve.

If the Democrats (and other progressive parties in other countries) win ultimately anyway without abandoning identity politics, it will be a disaster for humanity. Better they abandon identity politics and win with a broader social coalition.