Friday, March 14, 2008

The Entertainment Value of Identity Politics

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't it seem the person most enjoying the Democratic political contest for the presidential nomination is Charles Krauthammer


Of all the pundits taking glee in the fact that identity politics is coming home to roost with a vengance on the Democratic side of the house, seemingly the one most appreciative of the spectacle is Charles Krauthammer. This is not surprising, really, since Mr. Krauthammer has been regularly bludgeoned by the left over identity politics issues. To define "identity politics," it is a Marxian construct whereby the identity of an individual as part of a "victimized" group is more important than the substance of their discrete acts. That means that any criticism of an act is treated as an attack on identity, as in "race card" or "gender card."

It is a very toxic and distorting brand of politics. And we are being treated to the spectacle of the race and gender cards being tossed about inside the Democratic tent as the race for the Democratic nomination becomes ever more cut-throat.

As Mr. Krauthammer notes in his piece in today's Washington Post, there are three possible grounds for discriminating between political candidates - issues, personality or identity. Within the current Democratic race, there is little difference on the issues between Hillary and Obama. Obama is hard left, and Hillary has joined him on that perch ever since her more centrist views came effectively under attack earlier in the campaign. And in a contest of personality, that playing field is so tilted in favor of the likable Obama over the screeching Hillary, she stands no chance in that type of a race. Thus, the Clintons have embraced their last hope, identity politics - an area that Obama is also using very much to his advantage, even as he claims to transcend such identity politics. This from Mr. Krauthammer:

The pillars of American liberalism -- the Democratic Party, the universities and the mass media -- are obsessed with biological markers, most particularly race and gender. They have insisted, moreover, that pedagogy and culture and politics be just as seized with the primacy of these distinctions and with the resulting "privileging" that allegedly haunts every aspect of our social relations.

They have gotten their wish. This primary campaign represents the full flowering of identity politics. It's not a pretty picture. Geraldine Ferraro says Obama is where he is only because he's black. Professor Orlando Patterson says the 3 a.m. phone call ad is not about a foreign policy crisis but a subliminal Klan-like appeal to the fear of "black men lurking in the bushes around white society."

Good grief. The optimist will say that when this is over, we will look back on the Clinton-Obama contest, and its looming ugly endgame, as the low point of identity politics and the beginning of a turning away. The pessimist will just vote Republican.

Read the entire article.

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