How to Fix America's Identity Crisis

Article/Op-Ed in Politico
July 4, 2016

Michael Lind wrote for Politico about how to fix the American identity crisis through diversity and hybridity:

On July 4, as Americans celebrate the birthday of their nation, it feels a bit like the two major parties are celebrating different holidays for two different nations. Many of Donald Trump’s supporters equate the shrinking Christian majority with the real America. Many of Hillary Clinton’s supporters on the left have no room in their political alliance for non-Hispanic white Christians, particularly those in the working class.

The very fundamentals of American identity appear to be up for debate this year. And in many ways, they are. The problem, though, is this: Neither side is spelling out a vision for being an American that actually works for all Americans.

On July 4, it’s time to consider an inclusive idea of the American nation—a melting pot vision of American identity that reconciles America’s founding ideals with its racial and ethnic diversity.

This is a problem that America has always grappled with. The claim that the Founders sought to create a multiracial democracy that welcomed immigrants from all over the world might make inspiring Fourth of July oratory, but it isn’t true. The first U.S. naturalization act of 1790 limited citizenship to immigrants who were “free white persons,” excluding Africans, Asians and others. America’s white only-naturalization policy lasted until after World War II.
Related Topics
Identity and Polarization