Wedge issues may be issues of great importance, but they have certain factors that make them useful to those who wish to divide and conquer a society.
A useful wedge issue will obsessively focus attention on emotionally riveting issues that raise intense, but differing feelings among different sectors of the population. They are also issues that those seeking control and power are not affected by.
A skilled propagandist will find the natural cleavages in a society as skillfully as a diamond cutter finds the structure in a diamond. With an accurately placed chisel and the right blow, the diamond breaks along the crystalline lines of weakness. With the right messaging, a society can be divided into opposing camps.
Racism is a very important issue. The amount of suffering and injustice caused by racial discrimination is unfathomable. People raised in raciest societies have a deep need to cling to their identities as being of a superior race. Fanning the fires of racism by our president, or messages in sectors of the mass media, increases the polarity. Angry reactions from those, hoping for a more just and egalitarian society, helps to create solidly opposing groups within our society.
Sexism is likewise a very important issue, with women being kept as second class citizens. It is a staggering injustice that competent, hard working women are often reduced to sex objects, and that women are forced to work at lower pay for identical jobs. Sexual harassment has been brought to the forefront, and women and most men will no longer tolerate it. Rage is focused on numerous offenders, who are now suffering the effects of their abuses. It is way past time for these cruel injustices to end.
The treatment of this issue in the media has had some problematic effects. It has tended to polarize many women against men. Recently some women have explained that they have learned how bad men are, from listening to the radio!
Finding cleavages to divide the “liberal” element of our society is important to those who are in the process of establishing the maturing corporatocracy. The “left” is otherwise fairly unified, and stands in firm opposition the Trump agenda and all is stands for.
These and other wedge issues are of extreme importance, but tend to take public focus off of other issues that urgently need to be attended to. Some examples are: the fact that the climate of the planet is now careening out of control due to human activities, that our democracy is being destroyed as we speak, that net neutrality has just been eliminated, that our military industrial complex is slaughtering civilian populations throughout the planet and our toxic environment is now causing one out of three people to get cancer while environmental protections are being gutted.
The nuclear arms race is back on with a vengeance, and nonproliferation treaties are now null and void. The doomsday clock is very close to midnight and ticking loudly.
Almost the entire mass media is now owned by a few ultra-rightwing ideologues, who use this powerful tool of communication and indoctrination to further their own selfish ambitions. The list can go on.
Wedge issues are issues that do not interfere with the agendas of the elite, but divide the population into opposing camps that become unable to work with each other to prevent the perfect storm that is now brewing.
Right now, when we need to be unified in a massive struggle for our very survival, we are fighting with each other. Often working with those who we have differences with creates mutual respect and helps us to transcend our conflicts. We would do well to focus on our mutual survival at this time, and settle our differences later, if we are around to do so. “There will be no one left to save with a world in the grave.”