Columbia Univ. Prof: Bannon Right–Economic Nationalism Will Trump Dems’ ‘Identity Politics’

steve bannon

A liberal Columbia University professor agreed with President Donald Trump’s former Chief Strategist Steve Bannon that Democrats will just keep losing if they make everything about “racism” and “identity politics.”

Mark Lilla, the author of the new book The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politicsappeared on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS on Sunday and said Bannon is someone who understands everyday Americans of all backgrounds.

“If Steve Bannon says it works for him, I’m inclined to agree with him. He is someone who knows his business,” Lilla said.

Last week, Bannon told the American Prospect‘s Robert Kuttner that economic nationalism would trump identity politics every day of the week. His message to salad-bowl Democrats: Bring. It. On.

“The Democrats,” Bannon said, “the longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em. 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.”

Zakaria said that Bannon’s “intellectual influence seems to still dominate” and told Lilla that Zakaria agreed with the thesis of his book, “which is that as long as the left plays identity politics, it’s great for the right.”

Lilla, The Once and Future Liberal author, said that “identity politics in this country really means two things. On the one hand, it means a focus on understanding our social problems. And to understand any problem in America, you need to understand identity.”

“But when it comes to addressing those problems, identity politics as a strategy has been disastrous because rather than establishing a connection between those who are affected by these problems and those who may be unaware of them or unaffected, you need to build a bridge between people,” he continued.

Host Zakaria asked him, “you’re saying, when blacks said these are black issues, whites don’t feel like they connect with them?”

Lilla responded: “Well, it’s even worse than that. I think in some of the more radical identity groups, they say you must understand my problems and you can’t understand me because you’re not me, because you don’t belong to my group. And that’s a terrific turn off to people and it’s a missed opportunity to build a bridge and to see that there are certain principles and certain experiences that we share in this country. It’s an opportunity to gain allies. And identity liberals just keep shooting themselves in the foot.”

In a previous show, Zakaria pointed out that “Lilla notes a recurring image of identity liberalism is that of a prism refracting a single beam of light into its constituent colors, producing a rainbow. This says it all.”

Zakaria, as Breitbart News noted, criticized “the more recent liberal project” (salad bowl as opposed to melting pot) for being “centered on identity, affirming not unity, but difference, nurturing and celebrating not national identities, but subnational ones — women, Hispanics, Native Americans, African-Americans, Asian Americans.”

As Breitbart News has explained, in the 2016 election, Trump galvanized “voters who wanted to send a loud and clear message about the importance of melting-pot Americanism (instead of salad-bowl separatism).” By going to the polls for Trump, many of his supporters, as Breitbart News noted, “were loudly–or silently–voting for E Pluribus Unum (‘Out of many, one’) instead of Al Gore’s Ex Uno Plures (‘Out of one, many’).”


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