Since the election, some fatalistic Washington conservative elites have accepted — and Obama operatives have rejoiced in — a supposedly new and non-white-male ethnic electorate: Americans will be categorized, and collectively so, on the basis of largely how they look and, to a lesser extent, how they sound. Republicans, then, better get with the new tribalism and remarket themselves to address the new minority monolith.
Accordingly, the enlightened and redeemable liberal elements of the otherwise now played-out old white majority, when combined with the new ethnic minorities, will result in a permanent progressive majority — one that rejects the archaic, if not toxic, racialist values that have been in the past so injurious to the idea of what the United States might have otherwise become. Just imagine a better world with no more required reading of white male Greeks, no more inordinate focus on Shakespeare’s Shylock, no need to suffer through Twain’s N-word or Tolkien’s stereotypical dark-skinned orcs — or indeed, the one-dimensional and boring world we inherited from a Jefferson, Madison, Melville, Lincoln, Grant, Edison, Bell, TR, Salk, Nimitz, and Ike.
You Are a Nobody without Your Tribe
Yet the new emphasis on tribe is not necessarily a liberal vision. It ignores all human individuality and assumes that friendships, marriages, and alliances will not dare trump racial and ethic solidarity. Ours is now instead a Galadriel’s mirror of the Balkans, of India’s castes, of Rwanda, but no longer of a multiracial melting-pot America, where our allegiances were to be political, economic, and cultural and not necessarily synonymous with how we looked. Obama’s identity politics would create a Frankenstein of patched-together victims, and yet he will rue that it is a different story to use such a creature for constructive purposes. Such monsters are quite valuable when running for office, but can turn on their masters when it is time to govern.