Earlier this week, Politico ran a story with the headline “2020 Democrats go all-in on identity politics.”
Not a good strategy.
Technically, identity politics is defined as: “a tendency for people of a particular religion, race, social background, etc., to form exclusive political alliances.” However, this definition leaves out a lot of nuance.
Focusing on and including these distinct alliances is central to the foundation of the current progressive movement. Many times, great things have come from these groups e.g. the extension of basic human rights to those who identify as [insert group here]. Other times, things have been taken a bit too far. For example, thousands of people have been verbally attacking a young (white) woman who respectfully wore a traditional Chinese dress to her senior prom (her crime: “cultural appropriation.”)
I am the first to recognize that I am privileged in a number of ways. I know that some readers will dismiss me as an uninformed white girl who is shooting her mouth off in order to delegitimize the experience of people of color, the LGBTQ community, etc., and that is to be expected. Maybe you’re right. I know that I can’t speak to the experience of any of these persecuted groups, but I can speak to politics. After all, rage and indignation are nothing without action.
At this point, most Democrats are still on a tiny high from the federal midterm elections. (Alas, Pacific County did not sway the way that I hoped. So it goes.) Nevertheless, the Democrats finally won some races nationwide.
But did the Ds really win? Or did the Republicans just lose? Did the Democrats win by default? There is a big difference here, with big implications for future elections.
Frankly, the Democratic Party is not very sexy or exciting. If you’re not a part of one of the persecuted groups, or if you don’t care about/understand social inequality, then what is the party’s appeal?
Do Democratic politicians believe it’s their duty to teach the ins-and-outs of how institutionalized racism still impacts our country? Or the science behind the brain chemistry of someone who identifies as the opposite gender?
Maybe you say, “If someone doesn’t believe racism still exists, then we don’t want their vote!” But actually, we do. We want their vote. Even if the don’t believe racism is an issue, we want their vote. And maybe if we create a space for them to align somewhere else within the party, their views will naturally progress.
Even if everyday Democrats don’t want to be around those with opposing views, politicians need to stick to the big picture. Yes, there are still outrageous inequalities in American society and changes absolutely need to be made, but focusing only on affecting these groups is ineffective. We’re fighting at too small of a level.
The Democratic Party needs to create a culture in which the Standard Straight White Male feels comfortable voting blue. An evolution of ideas cannot happen within the brain of someone who is always feeling defensive for being born a certain way. Right?
Most Progressives want big, sweeping change. We want equality for those who don’t have it. We want the hearts and minds of our fellow Americans to suddenly fall in line with ours. But in order for each of those things to happen we need Democrats to win races, which means we might need to make our Club a little less hip, and a little less exclusive.