Right On: E pluribus unum vs. liberal identity politics

Stock images composited for literary effect | Sr. George News

OPINION – The words are stamped on every coin in your pocket and on the $1 bill. They appear on the Great Seal of the United States and the seals of the president, vice president, Congress and the Supreme Court.

E pluribus unum is Latin for “out of many, one.” The Continental Congress adopted the motto in 1776, intending to forge 13 independent colonies into a single nation.

Over the years, it has come to refer to the United States as a melting pot, a nation of immigrants from many lands merging into citizens of a single country.

America is a nation of immigrants with over 98 percent of its citizens tracing their roots to ancestors who arrived here in the last 400 years. No country has succeeded in welcoming and assimilating immigrants on such a scale.

Americans have much in common: political and religious freedom, economic opportunity and a vibrant culture influenced and enriched by the wide variety of immigrants arriving on our shores. American television, movies, music and clothing styles appear around the globe.

Freedom and opportunity continue to attract immigrants from around the world.

Obama’s statements to the contrary, America is exceptional. We can take pride in what millions of immigrants from more than a hundred countries have accomplished.

But today’s melting pot has an enemy: liberal identity politics.

A New York Times editorial, analyzing the Democrats’ defeat in November, complained, “Today, race is the Democratic Party’s organizing principle.”

The editorial continued, “Group identity is a doctrine and group grievances are to be nurtured and exploited politically no matter the damage to civil discourse.”

Historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. warned against identity politics extensively in his book The Disuniting of America. Schlesinger, a Democrat and strong civil rights supporter, argued that democracy requires a common basis for culture and society to function.

Schlesinger stated that “movements for civil rights should aim toward full acceptance and integration of marginalized groups into the mainstream culture, rather than … perpetuating that marginalization through affirmations of difference.”

Tribalism is a synonym for identity politics and President Obama warned against tribalism in an interview last year.

Obama explained, “It is literally in my DNA to be suspicious of tribalism. I understand the tribal impulse, and acknowledge the power of tribal division. I’ve been navigating tribal divisions my whole life. In the end, it’s the source of a lot of destructive acts.”


Yet despite these warnings, liberals today prefer to focus on our differences rather than all that we have in common. They see an America composed of people who fall into one or another identity group based on race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or language.

Public schools and universities, dominated by liberals, are fixated on differences, producing an entire inwardly-focused generation unaware of conditions outside their identity groups. Students today are taught more about the women’s rights and civil rights movements than about our Founding Fathers, our Constitution and the Bill of Rights that provide the basis for these movements.

College administrators, whose full-time job is to deal with — and heighten the significance of — diversity issues, encourage new students to focus on differences. Stunningly, the University of California, Berkeley, has 38 administrators with the word diversity in their job titles.

We are told repeatedly by the media to celebrate diversity. But the New York Times editorial called celebrating diversity “… disastrous as a foundation for democratic politics.”

The Times went on to say “American liberalism has slipped into a kind of moral panic about racial, gender and sexual identity that has distorted liberalism’s message and prevented it from becoming a unifying force capable of governing.

“It’s the type of thinking that allows the left to be outraged that the likes of Steve Bannon have Mr. Trump’s ear, and indifferent that the likes of Al Sharpton have had Mr. Obama’s.”

Our recent presidential campaign dramatically illustrates the limits of identity politics.

Bill Clinton won the presidency in 1992 by following the mantra: It’s the economy, stupid.

Ignoring Bill’s experience, Hillary Clinton instead played the diversity card, pandering to African-American, Latino, LGBT and female grievances at every opportunity.

Did this work? She drew far fewer voters from these groups than did Obama while her opponent’s percentage of these voters, albeit small, actually increased over Obama’s opponent in 2012.

Meanwhile, Clinton lost vast swaths of blue collar, white voters who had voted for Obama in the previous two elections. She rarely addressed them directly on the economic issues of most concern to them.

The New York Times editorial says that Democrats “… need a post-identity liberalism, and it should draw from the past successes of pre-identity liberalism.

“Such liberalism would concentrate on widening its base by appealing to Americans as Americans and emphasizing the issues that affect a vast majority of them. It would speak to the nation as a nation of citizens who are in this together and must help one another.

“Teachers committed to such liberalism would refocus attention on their main political responsibility in a democracy: to form committed citizens aware of their system of government and the major forces and events in our history.

“A post-identity liberalism would also emphasize that democracy is not only about rights; it also confers duties on its citizens.”

Appeal to Americans as Americans? Speak to the nation as a nation? What a novel idea for liberals.

E pluribus unum.

Howard Sierer is a developing columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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  • comments December 22, 2016 at 10:07 am

    Can’t really argue. A lot of valid points. The leftists have been more focused on letting transsexuals into whichever toilet than they have on creating better paying jobs, fixing illegal immigration, fixing a corrupt and broken health system, etc. Social leftism is a disease and the liberals basically flushed themselves down the toilet.

  • comments December 22, 2016 at 10:15 am

    Take a look at a country like ultra-leftist Sweden. They have basically flushed themselves down the toilet by opening their borders to huge swaths of muslim “migrants”. The country is turning into a dump. They don’t understand than having a bunch of muslims around turns a country back to the dark ages. Muslimism is the most dangerous, backward and extreme ideology in the world today.

  • theone December 22, 2016 at 10:38 am

    Blah Blah Blah, speaking of tribalism straight out of the all exclusive conservatism agenda. Please tell me which side is the better. I find your opinion as laughable as it gets when all you need to do is look at conservative/liberal ideology being one in the same, hate and disgust that fills a room of small minded trolls.
    There should be no left or right, we are in this together as human beings who should accept one another as we are.

    • theone December 22, 2016 at 10:58 am

      This quote sums it up nicely.

      “The insane zeal our species possesses for irrational religions
      and various forms of primitive tribalism that manifest themselves
      within brutal religious, religion and political conflicts,
      demonstrates quite clearly that we, as primates, are still at a very
      early stage in our evolution.”

    • comments December 22, 2016 at 1:26 pm

      They love this false left / right paradigm. It’s what keeps the elitests in power and keeps the peasants bickering back and fourth about which bathroom the transsexuals should use, whether gays should have a gay wedding cake as a right, etc. Would it make much of a difference if the peasants came to realize that their vote doesn’t actually count for anything, since the puppets we vote in are pre-selected by the elitists who actually run the show? who knows…

  • Pheo December 22, 2016 at 12:25 pm

    “Obama’s statements to the contrary, America is exceptional. ”

    Such a ridiculous statement. Trump won the election by convincing enough people that everything is a “disaster”. To name a few things that have been labeled disasters: The U.S. economy, the U.S. military, the One World Trade Center building, the economies of Wisconsin and New Jersey, New Jersey in general, the Electoral College, George W. Bush, New York City in 1975, Los Angeles International Airport, Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, and President Ronald Reagan’s 1986 tax rate cuts.

    How many times did we hear that China was killing the United States economically (though they have one quarter the GNP per capita)?

    Trump’s whole campaign was based on the idea that America was in the crapper and that only he could save it. But Obama hates America. Got it.

  • comments December 22, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    But to be fair they are called ‘neo-liberals’ similar to ‘neo-cons’. Classical liberalism as well as conservatism is essentially dead in gov’t. Most of Trumps platform was based on cleaning up the filth and corruption that is modern American politics (both R and D). But I’m not sure it can be done anything short of a revolution, since what we have is a gov’t that looks after its own interests and could care less to represent the citizens.

  • eddantes56 December 23, 2016 at 9:11 am

    Decent article but it skirts around the principal issue and that is culture. Culture is king; in other words, the norms, values and traditions of a country matter. There is no example in the history of the world where a vibrant and cohesive country has existed with a multi-cultural society.

    Our American culture is made up of a certain set of values, traditions, norms, etc and I submit that while not perfect, our culture has changed the world for the better. The health, wealth and convenience of the world has been made better by western civilization, of which the U.S. Has been a significant part.

    The only hope for our future and that of our descendents is for immigrants to assimilate into American culture. Unfortunately, that idea was thrown out of the window decades ago and we are living with the result. Democrats have been successful flooding our country with low IQ/low skilled immigrants who are really attracted to the idea of “free stuff”.

    When you add the dynamic that they need not assimilate, only “integrate” and that it’s ok to hold onto the core elements of their culture, you get what we have today; many areas in the U.S. Are dysfunctional in their outer appearance as well as in the functioning of their communities.

    Many of our black citizens in the cities/urban areas, although here for a much longer period of time, suffer from much of the same problem, they do not want to assimilate but want to hold on to their “African heritage”.

    I think Trump really has a chance to be transformational; however, the coming demographic winter will be hard to overcome especially in light of the anti-American/anti-white themes that 50% of the country believe in.

    We really do reap what we sow.

    • theone December 23, 2016 at 11:40 am

      I just stopped by to make an observation to our countries whoa’s. Racist closed minded piles of bloviating trash as yourself are more what’s wrong with our country than immigrants. We are a nation of immigrants and multi cultures, and always have been, in case you haven’t noticed the family down the street my have a far different tradition than any you preform. Grow a brain.

      • eddantes56 December 24, 2016 at 10:39 am

        We are not a nation of multi-cultures when it comes to core principals….You obviously are an ideologue. Your call sign “theone” says it all. Using ad-hominem attacks and calling people trash because people do not believe like you do that our country requires a “fundamental transformation” won’t work. I know you think it will but you can’t extinguish the truth.

        Go live overseas for a few years. I have extensively and there are many wonderful people in Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, etc. It’s fun to be around them, enjoy their company, etc. But when it comes down to it, the the Kuwaiti, the Argentine, The Malaysian believe their culture (norms, values, traditions) are the best. Without a strong incentive to assimiliate, people will balkanize….(see Dearborn Michigan, El Paso, TX, huge swathes of Los Angeles county)

        People in these three areas have built communities based on their native cultures and the dysfunction is off the charts. In the case of Dearborn, there are already instances of Sharia courts (off the books of course) dealing with Muslim family and economic issues.

        You are the close minded one whose experience in the world is very limited.

        Again, our country was not founded by a multi-cultural mish mash of people. Sorry, that is just a fact. I hope you don’t feel micro-agressed. Like it or not, the foundation of our country was done by Anglo saxon protestants. I’m not even protestant and I recognize the incredible contribution the Calvinists and Puritans made to our country….(even if they were a bit overzealous at times)

        Maybe we can agree on one thing……you and I are perfect examples of why the political/cultural divide in the U.S. Will never be fixed. You will fight my world view tooth and nail and will do all you can to bring on the demographic winter that will be here in a generation so that the Democrats will have be in office in perpetuity……and I will fight your world view tooth and nail and would prefer secession to living in a mediocre nation like the one you envision.

        • theone December 26, 2016 at 8:51 am

          You don’t understand the truth and it shows. I love how you right wing nuts make preposterous assumptions such as what my experience in life is, you don’t know diddly squat about me. I am making my assertions on you based on the bigoted racist comments you shared with us. To think there isn’t a multi culture mix in this country just shows how limited and deceived you are. Of course we have core traditions as do all cultures, only we have multiple ones that stem from Native American all the way to the other ones from around the globe. You my friend are small minded and a racist with your world view.

          Merry pagan Christmas bonehead.

        • comments December 26, 2016 at 1:34 pm

          Mostly agree with eddantes56, but don’t think you realize that the republicans are not much different. They are all globalists now and support open borders and the demographic destruction of the US. Only time will tell if trump is the messiah that all of those faithful to the Trumpite religion think he is.

      • eddantes56 December 24, 2016 at 10:48 am

        BTW, Merry Christmas

  • commonsense December 23, 2016 at 4:02 pm

    I have never thought diversity had any virtue. It just is. To idealize it made no sense.
    To build a political party around outliers i. e. fringe, seemed unreliable at best. All these tribes agreeing on anything seemed unlikely. What do Bruce Jenner and Al Sharpton share in common?
    And yet, you want them to meld into Democratic politics?

    I don’t care about your sexuality, gender, color or prior nationality. I just want you to love America and learn about our culture, speak English and embrace our constitution.

    • theone December 24, 2016 at 10:20 am

      I don’t want them to meld in to anything other than what they wish to be. I want you and me to be tolerant and accepting of the diversity this great nation offers. I want racism to vanish, bigotry to vanish, hate, and war and all violence to vanish, and we can begin with setting aside our petty political differences.

      • ladybugavenger December 24, 2016 at 6:49 pm

        Serial killers think the same way….they are just being who they want to be.

        There appears to be no right and wrong in your world, therefore no consequences. I’m not buying it, never will.

        Merry Christmas Theone!

        • theone December 26, 2016 at 8:56 am

          Using a criminal as a comparison to having the right to be who you want is dumb and you know it. Come on bug you can do better than that.
          Merry pagan Christmas back at you.

          • ladybugavenger December 26, 2016 at 1:13 pm

            It’s actually not a bad comparison. In your world, where do you draw the line of what a criminal is? Where is the line of right and wrong? In your world, Is it mans laws that dictate right and wrong? Or is it all in your head of what you think is right and wrong?

          • theone December 27, 2016 at 9:08 am

            I’m pretty sure a criminal is a criminal regardless of ones world view. Bug you have lost touch with reality if you think I don’t recognize criminals the same as you, and just for the sake of it they are deemed criminals according to the laws man has established. You are reaching.

          • ladybugavenger December 27, 2016 at 11:07 am

            Well, marijuana is a felony in some states and legal in others….criminal one state, not criminal in the other….

            Well, I’ll say this: there’s the 10 commandments. I’ve gone against every one of them. Thank God for the redemption in Jesus. I’ll be good if I can follow those 10 laws. We would all be good if we followed them. I stumble, I fall, and I get back up. Thank God for Jesus. #jesus

            Go Raiders!

          • ladybugavenger December 27, 2016 at 11:13 am

            Sorry, I’ve never physically murdered somebody but I certainly killed them in my heart- guilty!

  • Rainbow Dash December 23, 2016 at 4:12 pm


    You believe that your way is the only way to do things and therefore every single one of us should work hard to assimilate and take your narrow minded, racist, fascist and willfully ignorant point of view as our own. As I recall the last time time a large group of people took on one narrow minded racist, fascist and willfully ignorant point of view millions of innocent people were killed and World War 2 was started. What were those people called again? Oh that’s right, they called themselves “Nazis”. Remember what happened to them? Here’s a hint; it wasn’t pretty.

    For the record, I am not perfect. I freely admit that I have prejudices and ways of thinking that not everyone agrees with. Unlike you, I do not believe that my way of thinking is the right way or the only way and I do not care if anyone else thinks along the same lines. I am not here to change hearts or minds. I believe that everyone has a right to have and share their own opinion regardless of whether or not I agree with it.

    Happy Holidays! ♥
    Schöne Ferien! ♥
    Bonnes vacances! ♥
    Felices vacaciones! ♥

  • Chris December 23, 2016 at 7:22 pm

    ” the New York Times editorial” OK, I give. What editorial? You quote extensively from this mythical editorial, but you never provide a citation or link to it. At a bare minimum, the author, title and date would have been nice. Really, Howard, this should have been covered in your 8th grade writing basics, but you treat the reader like a failed 7th grader. “Berkeley, has 38 administrators with the word diversity in their job titles.” So, we just take your word for this? Once again, no citation where one is clearly called for. I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you were a competent engineer, but your writing skills fall far short of minimal competence. Hilariously, the few links you do provide take us to Wikipedia articles, as if we need Wiki to tell us what “culture” or “society” mean. Calling you a “developing columnist” is a little too generous.

  • commonsense December 25, 2016 at 9:55 pm

    Great article Howard. Well stated and thought out. The diversitists plead for equality. Can diverse be equal? Seems to me you are different (diverse) or you are the same (equal). Give me unity over diversity in important things. Dems try to unite Bruce Jenner and Al Sharpton into their huge umbrella of incongruent nothingness.

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