There’s identity — and then there’s identity politics. The difference between them may well be the crux of our next presidential election.

Identity is, obviously, who we are — the sum of our sex, race, religion (or lack thereof), experiences and heritage. Identity is essential to our sense of self, our relationship to others and our place in society. Inherent in identity is the nearly universal need for respect, dignity, value and, if it’s not too much trouble, admiration.

When those “desirables” are imperiled, we turn to identity politics, drawing attention to plights, problems and issues unique to an ignored, marginalized, oppressed, disenfranchised or otherwise nonintegrated segment of society.

We’ve all been participants in identity politics, at one time or another and to varying extents. The Irish (my hand is raised) in many instances came to this country as indentured servants. Our history isn’t quite so noble as we might wish, but we are ever-changing and evolving.

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