Democrat Senator Tammy Duckworth recently epitomized the worst tendencies of identity politics when she announced that her criteria for supporting President Joe Biden’s nominees was entirely race-based, not character-based. 

“I am a no vote… on all non diversity nominees,” she declared. “You know, I will vote for racial minorities and I will vote for LGBTQ. But anybody else I’m not voting for.”      

Although she eventually dropped her threats, she only did so after receiving assurances from the Biden administration that it would nominate more AAPIs (Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders) in the future. Notably, the administration did not say it would nominate whomever is best for the job.

Of course, it’s quite possible that the most qualified persons for the positions in question all happen to be minorities, but it’s wrong to put the primary emphasis on race instead of qualifications.

It’s not just wrong; it’s racist.

When determining if someone is adequately qualified for a political position, race is seldom a factor worth considering. Only a racist people would ever support or refuse to support any political figure merely for the color of that person’s skin.

Rather than the immutable characteristics that are unquestionably beyond one’s ability to control, what really matters in politics is character and policies. If any particular candidate maintains both exemplary character and honorable policies, I’m apt to support him or her despite potential physical differences. 

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Indeed, a sure sign of healthy growth within a culture is its ability to see past a person’s fixed attributes to the actual issues at hand. Tell me who is best equipped to handle religious liberty, health care reform, foreign policy, education, or any other political issue, and I’ll gladly support that individual regardless of what race they happen to be a part of. It makes little sense to assert that the unchangeable traits with which someone was born should in any way influence whether or not I politically support them. 

It makes little sense, but that’s exactly what identity politics attempts to do. By causing various factions to accentuate group identity over weightier matters such as moral integrity and civic-mindedness, identity politics prompts those who ascribe to its teachings to judge people not, as Martin Luther King Jr. famously said, “by the content of their character,” but “by the color of their skin.”

And while Senator Duckworth’s position is certainly frustrating, it’s not at all surprising considering the left’s total infatuation with identity politics and “identity favors.” In a fashion similar to cronyism, the left has pressured itself into awarding these coveted “identity favors” not on the basis of legitimate credentials, but on the basis of the “groups” one identifies with.

Joe Biden, for example, seemingly felt obliged to select Kamala Harris as his VP, not necessarily because of her political prowess, but because of her race and gender. Likewise, Senator Duckworth is apparently more concerned about what Biden’s appointees look like than their moral or political positions. 

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This unfortunate reality of today’s political climate shows just how far we’ve come from the Founder’s vision for a unified people, all of whom are “created equal.” Instead of highlighting our commonalities, and uniting us in spite of our differences, the left has become alarmingly proficient at highlighting our differences, and dividing us in spite of our commonalities. Rejecting precepts such as E pluribus unum, proponents of identity politics want us to focus on superficial attributes, and subsequently split into whatever group outwardly looks most like us. In other words, “out of one, many groups.”

If only this practice wasn’t hidden behind the deceptive guise of “equality,” perhaps the American people would finally see it for what it really is: racism. But until we abandon our race-based predilections and return to character-based merits, Americans will increasingly become divided into tribalistic social “classes.” We must reject this dangerous ideology if we ever hope to restore America, for as long as identity politics reigns preeminent in our culture, the true potential of this great country has not yet been fully realized.