One for All and All for One

It's time for Democrats to move away from identity politics

  • Illustration by Oliver Munday and John Custer for TIME

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    But if I'm a plain old white insurance salesman, I look at the Democratic Party and say, What's in it for me? These feelings are clearly intensifying in this presidential campaign. They are bound to increase, perhaps dangerously, as the white electoral majority (currently about 70%) diminishes over time. If the Democratic Party truly wants to be a party of inclusion, it must reach out to those who are currently excluded from its identity politics. It needs to disband its caucuses. It needs to say, We are proud of our racial and ethnic backgrounds, our different religions, our lifestyle differences. But the things that unite us are more important than the things that divide us. We have only one caucus--the American caucus.

    A few years ago, a leading Democratic thinker said, "The only way my life makes sense is if regardless of culture, race, religion, tribe, there is this commonality, these essential human truths and passions and hope and moral precepts that we can reach out beyond our differences. If that is not the case, then it is pretty hard for me to make sense of my life. So that is the core of who I am." That was Barack Obama, of course, in an interview with the author David Maraniss, reminiscing about his own struggle for identity, expressing the American Dream as purely as it can be done. Obama's election as President, in itself, moved us down the road toward the fruition of that dream. But there is another step to be taken now, and that is for him to lead his party past the politics of identity into a new era of American unity. E Pluribus Unum could, and should, be Barack Hussein Obama's greatest legacy.


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