The Case for Identity Politics: Polarization, Demographic Change, and Racial Appeals (University of Virginia Press, 2020) dives into the discussion and debate surrounding the 2016 primary and how Donald Trump was ultimately nominated by the Republican Party to be their standard bearer and then elected president. But this is not the center of the book—though it is a very important data point. Christopher Stout, Associate Professor of Political Science at Oregon State University, came to this question about identity politics and how this understanding of rhetorical and political levers is at play with different groups of voters in the United States, through the work of Charles Hamilton and considerations of the idea of deracialized strategies in American politics. Hamilton, who has written a forward to The Case for Identity Politics, co-authored, with Kwame Toure, the 1967 text Black Power: The Politics of Liberation, bringing forward this deracialization thesis that provides the jumping off point for Stout’s research and analysis. Stout discusses this concept of the deracialization of political rhetoric and campaigns, especially by Democratic presidential candidates over the past thirty or forty years. The Case for Identity Politics explores the nuances of policy appeals that center on race and policy appeals that deracialize the policy itself. Stout, in examining these different paths over the past decades, also traces some of the changes within American political parties, most particularly within the parties themselves and whom the parties see and respond to as their base supporters. This is a rich, detailed, and methodologically diverse study of identity politics, and how identity, particularly racial identity, has worked within politics in the United States, operating differently at state/local levels and national levels.
Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), as well as co-editor of Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern America (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015). Email her comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet to @gorenlj.
Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI.