It used to be that Kiwis would put aside their differences on one issue in order to discuss other topics in order to reach a common goal. Don’t agree with someone one the topic of abortion, euthanasia, gun control, war or anything else? Ok, but what about those other things you do agree on? well, sorry no, identity politics means you can’t possibly work together on those. If are out there just living your life and minding your own business you’ll be forgiven for not having followed the rise of identitarianism and the results – and you’ll certainly be scratching your head in wonderment at why political leaders can’t seem to just get on and do their jobs anymore.

Identity politics is all about banding together based on race, gender, belief or whatever lines feel like being drawn, and then declaring that all members of the group must follow the group ideology. Fortunately here in NZ it doesn’t often break through the thin veil between the online and real worlds, but that is happening with increasing frequency around the world, and it makes for some violent angry mobs. The big case in the spotlight right now is the case of Andy Ngo, a gay, Vietnamese journalist who was attacked by the far-left activist group AntiFa (short for anti-fascist) in Portland, Oregon. One is certainly left in wonderment at a group on the far left of the political spectrum attacking a gay immigrant, but it it’s a good example of the mob mentality of identity politics – Andy Ngo was not a part of that “group” so must not be tolerated.

This is an extreme example of course, but it does highlight what’s happening in many places, and worryingly, starting to get a foothold in governments such as our own here in NZ. The more silent, creeping version of these identity politics means that groups are formed along party or ideological lines, and anyone not sharing that view is not someone to be reasoned with or consider in discussions – they must be stamped out. We see it most notably in the Green party, who simply refuse to work with certain other political parties. But why? surely that would allow for environmental considerations across the board. But no, the Green party is in fact a far-left social justice party and the ideological battle-line means there can be no consorting with “the enemy”. It is a shame in many ways as having a true environmentally-focused contingent could prove useful in times of epic pollution and melting poles.

NZ is too small to get many stats for, but the graphs above highlight the similar, but more advanced divergence in the United States. The divide, especially among the politically active, is growing alarmingly and is in danger of causing a complete breakdown in communication between “factions”. To be clear New Zealand isn’t as polarized, but we are seeing the start of such a division, driven by the extreme left and right ends of politics and we need to be wary of following in the same footsteps.

The solution to our problem involves stepping back from group identities and agendas, being actually inclusive across the board (instead of faux- inclusivity aimed at scoring virtue points), and having politicians engage brains instead of rhetoric machines on infinite loops. If we saw half the effort from our politicians that goes into trying to score points against their opponents redirected into actual governance, we’d probably quadruple the Beehive’s output. And when we can judge the merit of an idea on the idea itself rather than who proposed it, we may just be able to make sensible decisions as a country once again.