The Lure of Ideological Purity

Yes – “lure” – see definition two below.



  1. an object usually of leather or feathers attached to a long cord and used by a falconer to recall or exercise a hawk
  2. an inducement to pleasure or gain: enticement

appeal, attraction

3. decoy for attracting animals to capture: such as……..


On “The Charles C. W. Cooke Podcast” of October 17, 2023: “Where Did Identity Politics Come From?“  Charlie interviews Yascha Mounk, author of “The Identity Trap: A Story of Ideas and Power in Our Time.”

The discussion was largely about identity politics, but I believe the portion of the discussion about the “lure” has much broader application.

Yascha purposely used the term “trap” in the title of his book.  One of the reasons he gave for that choice was that a trap frequently involves a lure – or bait.  Yascha described the lure of identity politics roughly as follows (I’m paraphrasing what he said on the podcast).

1: To be clear-eyed about injustices.

2: To not be a “reformer” – we are not going to make small, incremental changes – we are going to rip the institutions apart, tear it all down.  In essence, we are going to get everything we want, all at once.  We are going to be the most uncompromising and pure advocates for our cause.

It is easy to see this play out when we think of identity politics, but I submit that the same message is being used by multiple factions both left and right on the political spectrum.

The left sees injustice virtually everywhere – race, gender, income inequality, the list is endless.  But the right also sees injustices – abortion, taxes, excessive regulation, indoctrination in our schools, the degradation of the family, unchecked crime, open borders, and an endless assault on our constitutional rights.

As for the second item Yascha mentioned – I’ll call that the “burn it all down” crowd, there are obvious examples left and right.  The left wants to pack the Supreme Court (because of the reversal of Roe) and immediately end the use of fossil fuels no matter how many people die of starvation.  But the right wants to abolish the EPA, IRS, and the Education Department (among other government agencies).

The left claims that they are the ones with a clear eye on injustice, and promises that if given the power to do so will implement immediate and sweeping changes to resolve those injustices.

The right claims that they are the ones with a clear eye on injustice, and promises that if given the power to do so will implement immediate and sweeping changes to resolve those injustices.

It’s the same message.  It’s the same formula.  They both use it for one reason – it gets votes.  MTG and AOC are reading from the same playbook.  They are playing for different teams, but they are using the same tactics.

The point of all this is not balance, and it’s not about “what about”, I’m trying to point out that in our current state of bat-shit political discourse (I think both left and right would agree with my description of the current state), the more extreme elements on the left and the right are using the same tactics – the same messaging.  It’s not so much a matter of sides.  Everyone who knows me and anyone who has read my material on this site already knows which side I’m on.  This piece is about the fact that we are (to some degree) being played.  And we are.  No one has a silver bullet that will fix everything, and no one has the one and only “clear eye” on injustice.  This thinking – this narrative – is all a fabrication designed to present a lure.  Are you gonna take the bait?

“Only I (or my movement) know what is wrong. And only I (or my movement) can and will fight to the end to fix it!”  Does that sound like a politician or a political movement you support?  If so, I respectfully submit that you are being played.  This is not how our system was set up to function.  I don’t care if you support MTG or AOC – you are wrong.  You may have been right in Weimahr Germany for a few years, but we all know how that turned out (in the end, wrong – very wrong – horribly, unspeakably wrong).

Accept that you are being played.  And reject the voices of the players.

I recently saw a post where the poster posited that many (if not most or all) future propositions come down to three states – it gets better, it gets worse, or it stays the same.  What I’ve laid out here indicates that it gets worse.  It doesn’t have to.

The person the left thinks is a nazi still has a vote, the person the right thinks is a communist still has a vote.  Open dialog is essential.  You may not sway the opinion of the other person (even though that would be the goal), but you may be able to learn about the other side – valuable information is available if you engage.  We gain nothing by refusing to engage.

“I will not be happy unless I get everything I want right now!”  If that describes you, you are not willing to think long-term.  You are also ignoring the United States Constitution.  The Constitution ensures that no one gets everything they want “right now” – by design.


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