By 2045, a majority of the US population will be people of color. This will change the electoral makeup and enable people of color to have a transformative political impact.
In Zerlina Maxwell’s, The End of White Politics - How to Heal Our Liberal Divide, the former staffer for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign explains this is not a movement, it’s not a theory, it’s a demographic fact. To take advantage of this shift, the Democratic Party has to listen to the people of color and diverse groups, promote them to positions of power within the party, and let them lead the way.
According to Maxwell, when you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression, and that applies to all white males including those in the Democratic Party. Maxwell takes aim at the Bernie Bros, calling them “a manifestation of white male privilege”, and the “same as Trump supporters responding to the same perceived loss of privileges.” She claims whitelash increased racial solidarity among white people with the shared perception that they were losing status, rights, and privileges they had traditionally enjoyed was the reason for the Trump win.
She endorses identity-based politics explaining, in reality, it is politics saying there is more than one experience to consider. That means embracing identities other than those that are white, male, and heteronormative and accordingly running political campaigns based on the needs and experiences of those African Americans, Latinx, and the LGBTQ+ communities and women. Though women currently are a majority of the US population, their numbers don’t reflect that in elected officials.
Critical of Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, she suggests he has a “long history of telling the black constituency he can be trusted, while simultaneously authoring and implementing policies that would hurt them.” This includes supporting Bill Clinton’s 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act that has resulted in the current crisis of mass incarceration.
Maxwell identifies with The Squad, four young women of color recently elected to Congress saying, “there is no group more representative of how the next generation of leadership will look than The Squad.” She’s a supporter of their outspoken candor on public policy saying that lived experiences make better-informed policymaking. To Maxwell, the impulse of most Democrats to be moderate “feels like a manifestation of the white privilege that has plagued us for so long. Being a moderate is not a virtue. Moderation does not pull us toward progress.”
The book is dense with facts and then some since Maxwell has a tendency to repeat the same arguments in different context. She’s also fond of political jargon and memes, ostensibly to enhance her insider credibility, but which frequently sent me on an internet search to understand.
As an analysis of the current state of America’s political system, The End of White Politics reads like the future, like an awakening, like common sense.
Written with passion and commitment, Zerlina Maxwell presents her argument persuasively and unapologetically, and with enough anecdotes to lift it above the political thesis. She reminds us when she quotes feminist Laura Duca, “At any given moment, you’re either actively fighting for equality, or you’re complicit in the system of oppression that prevents it.”