The Democrats face a dangerous quandary. People who support Obama because he is black are in conflict with those who support Hillary because she is a woman. Regardless of who wins the nomination, those who support the loser based on racial or gender identity may feel so betrayed that they will sit out the general election and cost the party the Presidency.
I think this is trap the logical consequence of the genteel fascism of identity politics that the Left adopted in the 1960s. It may become a permanent bar to their power from here on out.
Mussolini grew up from birth a devoted Marxist steeped in the ideology of class identity and conflict. He invented fascism after his experiences in WWI convinced him that cultural and racial identity welded stronger political bonds than did identification with an international economic class.
Looking back at the 20th Century, one can easily see that all socialist states evolved away from a functional identification with class and towards a functional identification with ethnicity. All communist states, for example, rapidly mutate into ethnic states whose state cults extol the history and virtues of their dominant ethnic groups. When Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, Stalin’s public narrative of the conflict instantly switched from a parable of the conflict between red and black socialists, and instead became the “Great Patriotic War” in which Slavs battled Germans.
The ugly truth of human affairs is that people more readily cooperate with those most like them. We cooperate first with immediate family, then extended family, then ethnic group etc. People trust other people who share their innate characteristics, because one cannot easily abandon those characteristics. Events that affect people based on innate characteristics affect everyone who has those characteristics. This fact makes the people who are most like us the best choice for allies.
Fascism emerges time and again, because its emphasis on cooperation based on innate characteristics is more effective than are other approaches at creating a united and effective political group. Fascist collectives experience less internal division than do those based on class or other non-innate characteristics.
The western Left unknowingly rediscovered this fact of life during the 1960s. The civil-rights movement in America and the decolonization movement in Europe proved successful in part by accidentally creating dependable voting blocks based on innate characteristics.
No one designed the outcome. Voting blocks based on innate characteristics simply out competed those based on other kinds of personal ties. After the fact, intellectuals came in and constructed rationalizations to embrace and foster the successful trend. Today, we call this rationalization “identity politics.”
By the late ’70s, the identity ideology became so entrenched that it began to control the organizational structure of leftist organizations. Organizations from university departments to activist groups became structured around identity.
Worse, identity politics quickly recapitulated the fascist idea that the leader must be one of the volk. Leftists soon began to claim that a person was denied true representation unless he had a political representative who shared his innate characteristics. People began to demand political leaders who looked like them.
Unfortunately, no one on the Left ever looked far down the road to see the paralysis that a political party based on self-absorbed identity blocks would develop. The idea that people deserve representatives who look like them proved useful when running against white males, but it educated large segments of the population to feel cheated if they didn’t get an office holder who looked like them. It never seems to occurred to anyone that, eventually, a point would be reached whereat candidates from different identity blocks would compete for the same political prize.
Now we see the results in the current Democratic race. The African-American Obama versus the white female Hillary. Now the price of the dark bargain for the power of soft fascism must be paid. Now individual voters demand a politician who shares identity with them, and if they do not get what they want they will defect from the coalition.
If the Democrats lose this election I imagine they will believe it the result of a protracted and vibrant primary season and will try to create a primary system which will choose a clear victor very early. They will miss the true weakness they embraced when they embraced soft fascist ideals. What happens when the candidates inevitably become diverse in identity? What happens when you have an African-American candidate, a Hispanic candidate, a woman, etc. all competing for the same unsharable office? As more and more identity politicians rise to the top, Democrat primaries will increasingly become divisive shambles.
Since they embraced the soft fascism of identity politics, the Democrats have gradually lost power, being forced to play the role of mere conservatives fighting to protect the institutions of the New Deal and Great Society against the innovation of the Republicans. They usually offer excuses based on the moral failings of those who oppose them, but they never seem to realize that during the ’60s they made deal with the fascist devil that forever dooms them in a diverse society like America.