Trump Can Help Overcome Identity Politics

Identity politics—the artificial segmentation of Americans into antagonistic groups organized along often imagined ethnic, racial and sexual categories—is tearing America apart. President Trump can do something about it.

Government played a key role in creating these identities. The establishment of a new official taxonomy of Americans started roughly in 1966, when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission began asking companies with more than 100 employees to collect information through the EEO-1 form on “Negro, American Indian, Oriental and Spanish-surnamed” employees. What began as an effort to track how policies affected people thought to be disadvantaged easily but tragically slid into government-sanctioned promotion of victimhood and racial preferences. The goal of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to prohibit racial discrimination, was turned on its head.

“The EEO-1 was a public, if implicit, federal declaration of the nation’s minorities,” writes University of California, San Diego political scientist John Skrentny in his 2002 book “The Minority Rights Revolution.”

“Being listed on the EEO-1 was a crucial prerequisite for benefiting from a difference-conscious justice,” he concludes. “Without much thought given to what they were doing, [policy makers] created and legitimized for civil society a new discourse of race, group difference and rights. This discourse mirrored racist talk.”

Trump Can Help Overcome Identity Politics

Illustration: David Klein

Spurred by lobbying from liberal advocacy groups, in 1977 the Office of Management and Budget standardized the categories of “white, black, Hispanic, Asian and American Indian and Alaska native” nationwide. Added to the two familiar races, black and white, were three incongruous pan-ethnic categories. The Census Bureau went ahead and carved the entire country into what social scientist David Hollinger has dubbed “the ethno-racial pentagon.” Starting in 1980 the census began tabulating all residents into groups that correspond to a vague and unscientific color code: white, black, brown, yellow and red.

If you don’t think of yourself that way, the government will do it for you. There’s a box on the census for “some other race,” but the bureau explains: “When Census 2010 data were edited to produce the estimates base, respondents who selected the Some Other Race category alone were assigned to one of the OMB mandated categories.”

For people who tick multiple boxes—permissible since 2000—OMB has instructed the Census Bureau to “allocate” responses that “combine one minority race and white” to “the minority race.” As Mr. Hollinger puts it, “thus the federal…

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