Much attention in the 2016 Presidential Race has been paid to the sexism and racism of candidates and their supporters. The Republican side has been graced with some rather illustrative comments about Mexicans, women, and Muslims, to name a few groups. However, this phenomenon has hardly become surprising since the years of Nixon when the republican party subtly, and also later openly embraced identity politics. They offered old white Christian America representation of itself, often with lawmakers of the same racial identity, although with some notable exceptions made for the evangelical blacks, and the Cubans who fled the “godless Communists.”
This is not to say the Democrats have been free of such things, after all their coalition of minority voters didn’t come without some identitarian pandering. But there is also a Democratic candidate who while decrying racism, sexism and homophobia, correctly describes all these things as tools for those in power to divide the citizens and the workers.
“They played one group off against another. The rich got richer while everybody else was fighting each other. Our job is to build a nation in which we all stand together as one people,” said Bernie Sanders, a man of Jewish heritage, “there is a lot of anger being generated, a lot of hatred being generated against Muslims in this country…”. Sanders then embraced the Muslim student who asked him about racism in America.
This is in deep contrast with the gender identity politics practiced by Hillary Clinton, the other Democratic candidate for President, and her supporters .
In the New York Mag article”The Bernie Bros vs. the Hillarybots”, Rebecca Traister defended would-be Hillary voters whose support is based on her womanhood, against “misogyny and bitter gender resentments” on the left.
Her argument, besides calling those she disagreed with sexist, was that women needed representation in the White House, and that this was completely different from how the GOP voters wanted Republican presidents for culturally reaffirming reasons because that would be “As if the concerns of people who have never had representation in the White House were equivalent to people wanting to vote for candidates they’d like to have beers with.”
Except women have been represented in the White House, not just through the long line of politically active first ladies, or through the powerful lobbying of feminist special interest groups, but by the presidents that women voted for. When Traister uses the word representation that way, it implies women can only be represented in government by women lawmakers, and not the officials that women vote for. This anathema to the very nature of American democracy, in which representation is guaranteed by elected representatives that the people choose. If the only way for people to be represented is by having people of a similar identity being their representative, then we admit that our democracy is not predicated on the individual and in fact is nothing more than different groups of identities (both primal and manufactured) vying for power.
As for Clinton herself, she has been notorious for being a political opportunist who changes her positions with a change in the winds. Now, with strong feminist sentiments in the mainstream, she has been playing up identity politics and her gender.
“Women have always been the primary victims of war. Women lose their husbands, their fathers, their sons in combat. Women often have to flee from the only homes they have ever known. Women are often the refugees from conflict and sometimes, more frequently in today’s warfare, victims. Women are often left with the responsibility, alone, of raising the children,” she said once.
More recently, she insinuated comments by her opponent Sanders were sexist. Comments which derided the divisive atmosphere around gun legislation by calling for an end to all the “shouting.” It’s a line that Sanders used many times and one that had no connection to Clinton. But when Sanders used the line in the Democratic debate, Clinton went on to say at a later event: “I’ve been told to stop shouting about guns. Actually I haven’t been shouting, but sometimes when a woman talks, some people think it’s shouting!”
All of this, Hillary’s dependence on gender identity politics, and the feminists and Democrats who defend those politics, speak volumes to the horrible hypocrisy of the supposed “liberal” and “left” party of our American Democracy.
At the end of Traister’s article, she contemplated whether the derogatory phrase “socialist sexism” should be used to accompany the Jezebel penned “hipster racism.” I wonder if she’d object to “identitarian progressive” being added to that list.