The Spreading Cloud

Without anybody quite being aware of it identity politics has taken on a life of its own.  The campaign against Confederate statues has moved like a pullulating cloud of nanoparticles to the national anthem protest in the NFL. One arm of the cloud has spread to major league baseball.  A tendril may soon make the jump to NASCAR racing.  There's no escape from the spreading politicization any more, not in the theater, stadium, school or social media. We're trapped in hell.

Those who still believe that "someone" can call the spreading influence off might ask themselves if Hillary Clinton or Debbie Wasserman Schultz can coax it back into the bottle. Chances are -- no -- events are in charge  for now.  As James Kirchick notess the Spectator Steve Bannon is simply eating popcorn.

‘The Democrats, the longer they talk about identity politics, I got ‘em,’ Bannon gloated to Kuttner. ‘I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.’

Rare does a political strategist so explicitly reveal his game plan. Rarer do his opponents utterly fail to recalibrate their tactics in response. From the day Trump announced his candidacy for president with a smear maligning Mexicans as rapists, to the release of a tape in which he joked about groping women, the American left has campaigned against Donald Trump largely on claims pertaining to identity: that Trump is a racist, a misogynist, a xenophobe, an Islamophobic bigot. ... it was clearly an unsuccessful strategy, as Trump not only won the election, but did so with a higher portion of the black and Latino vote than his Republican predecessor, and with a respectable 42 percent of women.

Liberals thought they had a destruct button for times like this and watched in horror as Trump emerged from their ultimate sanction unscathed. Kirchick relates , "of all the shocks of the Trump presidency, it is the public reaction – or lack thereof – to Charlottesville and the ensuing aftermath that have caused the greatest disbelief among the political and media elite ... I cannot recall a single occurrence to which there has been a more uniformly negative media outcry than Trump’s reaction to the events in Charlottesville. But what Trump was able to do – by taking Bannon’s advice – was pivot from the controversy over apportioning blame for violence to the politically safer issue of iconoclasm, where public opinion verges drastically from that of the elite media."  Frank Cannon put it succinctly: the ‘Salon Left’ is killing the Democratic Party.

With the domestic situation out of control it's telling that the brightest hopes of the status quo are reposed not on Washington but Berlin. Ben Rhodes tweeted "Merkel wins another term and the world breathes a sigh of relief."  He forgot to add that Merkel survived in severely damaged condition.  She must make deals with parties like the Greens to stay in office. The Guardian reported that having suffered "its worst result since 1949, Merkel’s CDU will still need to find one or more coalition partners in order to find a governing majority, or pursue a minority government."