Democrats need white male voters

Contemporary history / n

After the presidential elections in November 2016, heated controversy arose in the United States over the reasons for the defeat of the Democrats. Above all, the historian Mark Lilla denounced a left-wing liberal obsession in the "New York Times" diversity and identity politics. Lilla urged all Americans to set aside individual and group-specific interests and instead to come together again to reflect on freedom and equality as shared values ‚Äč‚Äčthat have characterized the USA since it was founded. [1] In their replies, among others, the legal scholar Katherine Franke in the "LA Review of Books" or the political journalist Vann R. Newkirk II in the "Atlantic" replied that for a long time in US history it was a white, male and heterosexual privilege to benefit from these values. This privilege of the one was founded in the exclusion of the other. In addition, the victorious Republican candidate Donald Trump had just played the identity-political card in the past election campaign. Trump specifically addressed white and primarily male voters of the lower and middle classes and, through his failures against "others", permanent boundaries along categories such as race, Origin, nationality, belief and gender. The fact that the majority of white voters gave Trump their vote despite his misogynous and sexist failures can be a sign of a currently dominant position of race and whiteness apply in the struggle for social participation. [2]

The historian Nell I. Painter also spoke up in this debate. She emphasized in the "New York Times" that whiteness had now changed from an unmarked category, which until then had naturally occupied the social center, into a marked category that was mobilized in a targeted manner in order to gain a political and socially privileged position to back up. Identity politics is by no means just a matter for Afro-Americans, Latinas, women and LGBTs (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender), but also for white, heterosexual, Protestant men who are trying to re-establish their lost place in the center of society. Trump's election is an expression of this hegemonic endeavor. [3] Ta-Nehisi Coates, one of the most influential American intellectuals in recent years, has even called Trump the "First White President" in the "Atlantic"; Admittedly, not because Trump would be the first President of the USA whose skin is considered white, but rather because he is aggressively pursuing identity politics and throwing his whiteness into the political scales more unvarnished than any other president before. [4]

The US disputes have also met with great resonance in Germany. After all, they revolve around social and political turmoil, which in a similar and, at the same time, different form is also influential in this country and in large parts of Europe. With Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again", the AfD's "We're getting our country and our people back" corresponds. The aversion to a pluralistic culture and society as well as to a policy that consciously recognizes them is again voiced loudly. Boundaries (ethnic as well as political as well as territorial), a renunciation of diversity as a value and a return to an identity center are increasingly being demanded. On this side of the Atlantic, this is not defined as pointedly by whiteness as in the USA, but by related categories such as origin, nationality or belief. These, in turn, are very powerful in the USA and overlap here as well as over there whiteness. "Identity politics", the sociologist Armin Nassehi diagnosed at the end of 2016, "is not a privilege of the academic middle class, but has now become the decisive form of politics." Those who call themselves "concerned citizens" are now more passionate about identity politics than everyone else. [5]