Identity politics and snobbery are destroying liberalism

by Samuel Dale

On Wednesday I marched down Broadway in Manhattan to protest Donald Trump’s election.
Thousands of millennials walked in the rain while chanting ‘Not my president’, ‘pussies grab back’ and ‘end rape culture’. I lasted two minutes before walking off in despondence.

This was the complete embodiment of the failure of American liberalism. An impotent march in a bastion of liberalism shouting about fringe issues among ourselves. Completely and utterly pointless. Sixty million people had just voted for Trump.

The American left is in the worst shape in the history of the American Union.

Barack Obama will leave a presidency, Congress, more than 30 state governorships and many Supreme Court picks in Republican hands.

His entire domestic policy agenda can and will be quickly dismantled from Obamacare to tax and financial reform.

After painstaking years rebuilding US reputation abroad, it has been shattered by the election of an unhinged bigot.

It is a dreadful legacy and he must own his failure.

It is not just America. Liberalism is clearly in crisis around the world from Brexit to Le Pen and Orban. Here are three reasons why.

Firstly, the toxic failure of identity politics. The Hillary Clinton campaign began with a colourful mosaic of American life in April 2015.

Black, brown, gay, Muslim, Latino, female. The new American progressive coalition.

For 18 months, Clinton signalled this was the future. If you were a white man then you were the past and didn’t belong in her American Dream.

And it wasn’t subtle either. Ramming it down their throats in advert after advert.

In New York this weekend I have heard a number of millennials lambast old white men simply on the basis of their colour and age.

Why can’t old white men simply accept their privilege is over? Why can’t old white men simply give up some of their power to others?

The are real conversations about ordinary people judged simply for who they are. Check your privilege.

The Democrats under Obama and Clinton have descended deeper and deeper into identity politics.

They have sliced and diced the country into races and religions.

Fine. But if you deliberately play this game for long enough then don’t be surprised if the groups you are targeting fight back.

The resentment that had been building against white Americans’ deliberate isolation by US Democrats found a home in Donald Trump.

Identity politics is growing in the UK too as Labour shrinks under Corbyn.

We see it in Sadiq Khan’s London where his Muslim faith is held up as an intrinsic virtue. No, it isn’t.
It’s great to have a Muslim mayor in an era of Islamophobia but we should assess his policies first and not his identity. We have lost sight of that.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a middle aged white man.

And there is nothing inherently virtuous about being a female ethnic minority.

This left liberal stridency on identity has to end now.

Secondly, liberal conversation is dominated by fringe issues.

Clinton spent way too much time and energy making adverts in Spanish and taking about the importance of transgender rights, for example.

It’s a big vote winner in Brooklyn but most Americans don’t speak Spanish and couldn’t give a damn about transgender rights.

These may be important matters for some but to effectively lead your campaign on social issues is outrageous self-indulgence.

Working people care about jobs, their retirement, healthcare and immigration.

People are living in abject poverty or struggling to pay the rent while Clinton waffles on about LGBT workplace rights. It’s not wrong but it reveals a different set of priorities and it is utterly tone deaf.
Liberal elites have no clue about the lives of the working class. They should learn.

And finally, the dreaded liberal echo chamber. We talk among ourselves about issues we care about without a hint of challenge or intellectual curiosity.

We tweet, like each other’s Facebook posts and pat each other on the back.

I don’t think I know a single Trump supporter in the US, where I live. And I know hardly any Brexit supporters in the UK.

We are quick to belittle or ignore opposing views as racist or stupid.

There is a enormous arrogance and smugness to modern liberalism. Virtue signalling is rampant.

It is snobbery of both wealth and education. It’s morally wrong as well as self-defeating.

It is little wonder that the white working classes without university educations have struck back. They are the target of liberal ire simply because of who they are.

I’m one of the worst offenders. Mea culpa. Big time. I called Brexit and Trump totally wrong in a self-satisfied dismissal. Completely and utterly as wrong as can possibly be.

I supported Hillary strongly. So my record is terrible and I say this with the humility or someone who is wrong often.

I worry that Corbyn is drifting further down this road rather than confronting issues that truly resonate with working Brits.

The liberal conversation is vapid and the bubble is suffocating.

It is destroying a great cause before our eyes. We must re-assess with humility, curiosity and an open mind. We are destroying ourselves.

Sam Dale is a financial and political journalist

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18 Responses to “Identity politics and snobbery are destroying liberalism”

  1. Carole says:

    “Clinton spent way too much time and energy making adverts in Spanish and taking about the importance of transgender rights, for example.”

    Try rewriting that sentence with the word women’s replacing transgender, or maybe black, and see where that gets you.

    The Left has to speak for everyone, and that includes minorities who suffer discrimination, verbal and physical violence and legal oppression. It is not about being in a liberal bubble, it is about equality.

    As a woman, I don’t have any objection to men, neither as a lesbian do I object to heterosexuals, but I do object to people who use their position to disadvantage and discriminate against others, simply because they do not conform to a traditional white male view of the world.

    The truth is that white men of a certain age resent groups of people who, for whatever reason they believe are threatening their privileged position in society and I see no reason to pander to that particular bigotry. Yes, the “traditional” working class is in decline, but that is not because of women, black people, gays or transgender people. It is in decline because it is resistant to change, unwilling to adapt and because it is wedded to an industrial past that has gone. I grew up in the late 50s and 60s in a working class world dominated by men who were resentful of anyone who wasn’t like them. Resentful of education, resentful of working women (although they liked the money), resentful of immigrants and abusive towards gays and lesbians. I did what was necessary to get out of that world. I see no reason why I should embrace its return.

    Don’t fetishise the traditional white working class. It contains good people, but also horrible ones. Treat people as individuals, not some kind of virtuous faceless proletarian mass. That kind of nonsense should have died when the Berlin Wall came down.

  2. LordBlagger says:

    After painstaking years rebuilding US reputation abroad, it has been shattered by the election of an unhinged bigot.

    Crap, its gone tits up because the Democrats failed.

    On the fight back, you are correct. The left has fucked people over. That’s the right word for it.

    The socialist welfare state has a pension deficit of 10,000 bn pounds.

    Time Phillip Green was canonized for running a great pension scheme, when you compare it against the socialist hell.

    But the millennials who vote for JC, for Clinton, are just discovering they are on the hook for the debts.

  3. The Thatcher/Reagan/Blair consensus is over.

  4. amigauser says:

    NAFTA, cafta, tpp is what caused the Democrats to be destroyed. can you imagine any Democratic politician standing in front of a Ford factory and threatening them with tariffs, can you imagine any new labour politician?
    too many times the limo liberals have pissed on the working classes and called it rain

  5. Mike Homfray says:

    No reason at all why you can’t talk about both socio-economic equality and LGBT rights.

    They should be two sides of the same coin.

    But for the centrists they are not because they have embraced market economics and their policies simply don;t back economic equality any more. Because it means redistribution and higher taxes for the better off. And there’s just no way around that one

  6. Dragonfighter says:

    You have missed the point that “The Donald” said something that upset the delicate sensibilities of someone who is involved in LGBTQ+ issues and so he was excoriated by the community, BUT the only thing I can recall anything about him and LGBTQ+ issues is that he ordered the bathrooms in his public properties to be usable by trans people in the gender of their choice as posted by the former male decathlete Khardassian. So this says to me that he may not talk the talk, but he certainly walks the walk. I know which I prefer.

  7. Dragonfighter says:

    Different point, Why is no-one upset about the full frontal nude paparazzi pictures of Justin Bieber that have been posted on the internet? Double standards anyone?

  8. Silent Majority says:

    Absolutely 100% on the money…..

  9. Anon says:

    This is why the Labour party needs to fess up and decide who they now represent.

    This widening chasm has become unbridgeable, and I can actually see the emergence of two, even three, new parties.

  10. Dave Roberts says:

    A great article Sam and the left can’t reorganise unless it does a very serious stock take of where it is and how it got there. I don’t think for one moment that it will, it can’t, the process would be too painful and traumatic for the

    While making a cup of tea in the kitchen where my partner is listen to Radio 4 I listened to a programme by Alan Dine of whom I had never heard but she had as she has 4 on permanently. He had been communicating through social media with people all over the world for some time on a range of political and social issues and after the Trump victory was interviewing them by phone.

    A second generation Cuban American woman who had voted for Trump could have been the white mid west unemployed factory out of a job for years because business had moved abroad. In between was a young black man who was of the opinion that all white people were privileged because they were white!

    I believe that this situation is replicated here and this is evidenced by the decline of the left and the rise of UKIP. There are a number of pointers of why this has happened although some ten years ago the powers that were saw the writing on the wall after the inner city riots of 2001 in the north west and the Asian/Black riots in Birmingham in 2005.

    In 2006 Trevor Phillips was brought in by government to essentially shut down the Commission for Racial Equality which of course was nothing of the sort but a gravy train for anti white careerists. Then Race Equality Councils all over the country progressively had their grants cut off and disappeared. The transformation of Trevor Phillips from Afro haired NUS revolutionary to shutting down the CRE is evidence of how the in the UK the situation that is occurring in the States was defused before it could get out of control.

    Ted Cantle, who was one of those who wrote reports on the 2001 riots, has recently said that white people should be encouraged to stay in areas that are becoming Asian and that the bussing of school children should be introduced to prevent the creation of ghettos. Phillips has said that the country is sleepwalking into segregation. I have on my bookshelf ” The Future of Multi Ethnic Britain” edited by Bhikhu Parekh. Published in 2000 it lists as contributors such as Parekh, Phillips, Herman Ousely and a list of others who have in the sixteen years since it saw the light of day totally changed their opinions. Reality has reached them.

    Not so the left, from liberal to loony. To them unrestricted immigration is a religion and the oppression of ethnic minorities by evil white racists is a fact of life and the proof is the four million votes for UKIP. They will not ask themselves why whole sections of the electorate that were solidly Labour but have now abandoned that party. A good article but I’ll wait to see if this gets posted before I write any more.

  11. Mickey Graft says:

    We are socialists and social democrats, what the heck do we care about liberalism?

  12. Dave Roberts says:

    Are comments closed on this? Or is it just me?

  13. Dave Roberts says:

    Carole sounds like a professional victim.

  14. paul barker says:

    What this article article mostly tells us is that Sam Dale is no Liberal. I dont see Sexual Assault as a fringe issue.
    Clinton actually campaigned on all sorts of issues, it was Trump who campaigned purely on Gender & Ethnicity.
    There are some interesting issues raised in this article but given the shit its mixed with, theres no possibility of a useful conversation following.

  15. Mike Homfray says:

    I think the sort of approach taken by Dave Roberts, with socialist economics attached to conservative social and cultural values, would be no more successful in creating a majority than the alternative of liberal economics and progressive social policy

    There is no reason at all why these two issues cannot be seen as part of a coherent socialist whole.

    Indeed, it is the only feasible option.

  16. TNL says:

    A few points. First of all:

    “This was the complete embodiment of the failure of American liberalism.”

    I don’t think you know what the word “liberalism” actually means but Hillary’s failure to win the presidency has as much to do with liberalism as Trump’s success in doing so does – i.e. none.

    “The American left is in the worst shape in the history of the American Union.”

    No it isn’t. The defeats in 1972 and 1984 were far worse. Has there been a Democrat President since then? Well one sits in the White House now.

    “They have sliced and diced the country into races and religions.”

    Whereas Donald “Mr Inclusive” Trump has not done so. Except… what for it… yes he has.

    “We see it in Sadiq Khan’s London where his Muslim faith is held up as an intrinsic virtue. No, it isn’t.”

    Is it though? If so by whom? I have seen no evidence of it. Sure, when Goldsmith’s campaign became a long chant of “don’t vote for the Muslim” people rallied against that, but I don’t see Khan’s religion being held anywhere as something of intrinsic virtue.

    “I don’t think I know a single Trump supporter in the US, where I live. And I know hardly any Brexit supporters in the UK.”

    Get out more then. I found Trump and Brexit supporters in the workplace for God’s sake.

    “The liberal conversation is vapid and the bubble is suffocating.”

    Again, nothing to do with liberalism which almost definitionally is about having as broad a conversation as possible. By all means critique introverted and self-absorbed social democrats about their failure to get anywhere but don’t link that to liberalism. It’s just plain wrong.

    Oh, and Hillary won the popular vote by more than 1.5 million people. There were left-wing votes across the US, including on issues like dope usage. To be a self-hating social democrat at a time like this just seems to be utterly misguided.

  17. allx says:


    Identity politics and snobbery are destroying liberalism « Labour Uncut

  18. ruby says:


    Identity politics and snobbery are destroying liberalism « Labour Uncut

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