so here i am in splicetoday, with the piece about the apartheid imposed on our heads and in the real world by demographics, polling, political consultancy, and so on. the basic use of demographic 'data' in politics is to find strategies to make groups more cohesive, more insular, and more hostile to other groups and their politicians. the politicians, meanwhile, are becoming little but representatives or stereotypes of group memberships. also, the two-party system is shifting under this influence from an ideological competition, albeit of remarkable narrowness, to gender/race parties. in my opinion, these divisions are very likely to increase even more, because they are working on it technologically, as it were. and also, what the hell: the 'science' under the data is grotesquely problematic and consists more or less entirely of the deployment of stereotypes. also, its general relation to reality is ridiculously problematic. anyway, i kind of think this is an important point! share the splice column here and there?
i guess i think one reason this has happened is because you have a critical mass of profs/pollsters/pundits/pols who have gone to college since the 1980s. the whole period in academia has been waves of identity politics. now, that kind of pomo moment could have gone many ways, circa 1990. if you thought of identities as 'social constructions' or artifacts of power a la foucault, for example, you had equipment to throw racial and gender identities into chaos, or open them up, or show them as liquid over time in many dimensions: "anti-essentialism' in feminism or critical race theory. instead we ended up essentializing and freezing identities, in an attempt to get justice for those that had them on the oppressed end. a breathtaking example of that is the way people have come to think of gay/straight or trans/cis: something you're born with, your very essence, your very identity, and something that can never shift.
i was working on race in the mid-90s in a way that had a definite identity-politics component. but what i wanted the upshot to be was to try to unfreeze the race binary, or to show the ways it was extremely optional and...not true. i actually think the right approach is neither to relentlessly emphasize the group identities a la 2016 politics not to relentlessly attack them. i think we should play with them and let them flow.