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Reviews |  Giving people what they want is not that easy


3. How should a Democrat answer questions about intergenerational poverty, out-of-wedlock births, and the issue of fatherlessness?

In an email, Teixeira addressed the affirmative action:

Affirmative action in the sense of, say, racial preferences has always been and continues to be unpopular. The latest evidence comes from the Deep Blue State of California which defeated an effort to restore race and gender preferences in public education, employment and contracts by an overwhelming 57-43 margin. As President Obama once said, “We have to think about affirmative action and design it in such a way that some of our children who are advantaged do not get more favorable treatment than a poor white child who has. more struggled “. has always been a strong argument for class-based affirmative action, which may be worth revisiting rather than doubling down on race-based affirmative action.

Teixeira on Kendi’s arguments:

It is remarkable how willing the liberal elites have been to accept Kendi’s extreme views that attribute all racial disparities in American society to racism and an unhindered white supremacist system (and only that), insist. that all policies / actions can only be racist or anti-racist in any context and advocate for an anti-racism department made up of anti-racist “experts” who would have the power to overrule any local legislation , state and federal deemed not really anti-racist (and therefore, according to Kendi’s logic, racist). These ideas are empirically dubious, massively simplistic, and completely impractical in real terms. And to see that they are politically toxic is an understatement.

The left, in Teixeira’s eyes,

has paid a considerable price for abandoning universalism and for its growing connection to Kendi-style views and militant identity politics in general. This resulted in the party branding as being focused on, or at least distracted by, issues of little importance to the lives of most voters. Worse yet, the emphasis has led many working class voters to believe that unless they subscribe to this emerging worldview and are willing to speak its language, they will be condemned as reactionary, intolerant and racist. by those who claim to represent their interests. To some extent, these voters are right: They are truly despised by elements of the left – usually younger, well-educated, and metropolitan – who embrace identity politics and the intersectional approach.

In March, Halpin wrote an essay, “The Rise of the Neo-Universalists,” in which he argued that

there is an emerging pool of political leaders, thinkers and citizens without an ideological home. They come from left, right and center, but all share a common aversion to sectarian and identity politics that dominates modern political discourse and the partisan and media institutions that set the public agenda.

He calls this constituency “neo-universalists” and says they are united by “a vision of American citizenship based on the fundamental belief in the equal dignity and rights of all. This means, he continued,

not to treat people differently based on their gender or skin color, or where they were born or what they believe in. It means using collective resources to contribute to the “general well-being” of all in terms of employment, housing, education and health care. It means giving people a chance and not taking on the worst of them.

How, then, would neo-universalism deal with affirmative action policies based on gender and race?

“In terms of affirmative action, neo-universalism would agree with the original need and purpose of affirmative action following the legal dismantling of racial and gender discrimination,” Halpin wrote in an e- mail:

America needed a series of measures to overcome legal and institutional obstacles to their advancement in education, the workplace and life in general. Fifty years later, there has been tremendous progress on this front and now we are faced with a situation where continued discrimination in favor of historically discriminated groups is difficult to defend constitutionally and is likely to come up against a wall very soon. In order to continue to ensure the integration of all in society and life, the neo-universalists would favor measures to offer additional help to people according to class or place measures such as parental income or profiles and disparities. school, in the case of education.

What did Halpin think of Kendi’s opinions?

A belief in equal rights and dignity for all, as expressed in neo-universalism and mainstream liberalism, rejects the race-oriented theories of Kendi and others, and in particular the concept that the current racial discrimination is necessary to overcome past racial discrimination. . There is no constitutional defense of this approach since you clearly cannot deprive people of due process and rights based on their race.

Further, theories like these, according to Halpin, promote “sectarian racial divisions and encourage people to see themselves only through the prism of race and the perceptions of who is oppressed and who is privileged.” Liberals, Halpin continued, “have spent most of the 20th century trying to get society to not see people that way, so these contemporary critical theories are a huge step backwards in terms of coalition building. broader and solidarity across racial, gender and ethnic lines. . “

On the problem of intergenerational poverty, Halpin argued that

Poverty reduction and eradication is a critical goal for neo-universalists of the liberal tradition. Personal rights and freedom do not mean much if a person or a family does not have a solid base of income and work, housing, education and health care. Good jobs, safe neighborhoods and stable two-parent families have proven to be essential elements in building a strong middle-class life. Although the government cannot tell people how to organize their lives and has to deal with the fact that not everyone lives or wants to live in a traditional family, the government can take steps to make family life more affordable and more stable for everyone, especially for those with children and low household income.

Although the issue of racial and cultural tensions within the Democratic coalition has been debated for decades, Democratic strategists are currently focusing on the well-educated party elite.

David Shor, a Democratic data analyst, has become a central figure on these issues. Shor’s approach was described by my colleague Ezra Klein last week. First, leaders must recognize that “the party has become too unrepresentative at the elite level to continue to be representative at the mass level,” then “Democrats should take numerous polls to determine which of their views are popular and which are not. popular, and then they should talk about popular stuff and shut up about unpopular stuff.

How can Democrats defuse the inevitable Republican attacks on the “unpopular stuff” of contemporary liberalism – to use Klein’s expression – much of which relates to issues of race and immigration as well as the disputes raised by identity politics on the left?

Shor observes that “we have found ourselves in a situation where white liberals are more to the left than black and Hispanic Democrats on just about every issue: taxes, health care, policing and even racial issues. or various measures of “racial resentment”. , “before adding:” As white liberals increasingly define the party’s image and message, this will discourage non-white conservative Democrats and push them against us. “


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