Saturday, December 3, 2016

‘Don’t play identity politics!’ The primal scream of the straight white male | Hadley Freeman | Opinion | The Guardian

Donald Trump supporter
It is not the Democrats or the Clinton campaign that played the race card, the woman card, etc.  Theirs ws the traditional language of our civic religion.
Where race came in is the moment Trump began his campaign - screaming about Mexican rapists and murderers.  That was soon followed by the white mobs screaming for blood at Trump's wildly successful rallies.  They knew who they are: white men, not ***Blacks, Mexicans, etc. -gwc
‘Don’t play identity politics!’ The primal scream of the straight white male | Hadley Freeman | Opinion | The Guardian
by  Hadley Freeman
An intriguing theory has recently taken hold, fast calcifying into received wisdom. Hillary Clinton, so it goes, lost the US election because she “played identity politics”.
This idea has been enthusiastically endorsed by, among others, Bernie Sanders(“It is not enough for somebody to say, ‘I’m a woman, vote for me,’” he said, as if Clinton ever – even once – argued this), and Mark Lilla in the New York Times (who described as “a strategic mistake “Clinton’s tendency “to slip into the rhetoric of diversity, calling out explicitly to African-American, Latino, LGBT and women voters at every stop”).
Like I say, it’s a fascinating theory, in its underlying insinuations and its demonstrable wrongness. (To point out that – in the vast, vast main – the identity politics sceptics are white men, whose articles are filled with quotes from other white men, doubtless sounds like I’m playing the identity game, too; and yet it is one of those awkward things   called “facts”.)
Leaving aside that far more people voted for Clinton than Donald Trump (an inconvenient truth for any sweeping argument about why Clinton lost), the real issue is not that Clinton lost the election. On the contrary, it’s that playing identity politics is precisely how Trump won the election. Anyone who can’t see that is revealing that they think the white straight male as the baseline norm. Thus anyone else – women, people of colour, LGBT people – is merely a niche distraction, a gimmicky aberration, a game (“as if the centuries’-long push toward enfranchisement, civil rights, equal pay, and reproductive autonomy, and against domestic, sexual, and police violence were a game”, Rebecca Traister recently wrote). They are not, as the political phrasing goes, real people.
It boggles my brain that this even needs pointing out: political elections have always played identity politics. The difference is that the game was heretofore entirely weighted towards the white straight male, which I guess is why it comes as such a shock to that demographic when they are not at the absolute forefront of every single political discussion now.
Lilla, for example, in his much-discussed article, suggested that the politicians who “very skilfully” bridged identity divides were – wait for it – Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. Ah yes, this would be Reagan, who enthusiastically blew the racial dog whistle by referring to “a Chicago welfare queen” and “a strapping young buck” who used food stamps to buy steaks. And Clinton, who to prove that he was tough on crime interrupted his own 1992 campaign to return to Arkansas to preside over the execution of Ricky Ray Rector, an intellectually impaired black man. Both reinforced discrimination against LGBT people.But this was not divisive identity politics, apparently, because white straight voters don’t have an identity – they are just people. This, I guess, is why some seem unable to see that Trump (and his new BFF, Nigel Farage, this country’s most expert practitioner in the sport) ran campaigns this year entirely predicated on identity politics.
No, no, Trump’s campaign was about the economy, his defenders cry! And indeed it was, in that Trump promised the old manufacturing jobs would come back to the overwhelmingly white rural areas (which almost certainly won’t happen), and massive tax cuts to the white super-rich (which almost certainly will). See if you can spot the common denominator in those demographics.
Discussions about identity politics are the new arguments about political correctness, which, as Moira Weigel detailed at length in this paper this week, have long been a means for the male, white and right mainstream to shut down any suggestion that others are worthy of a voice. For Clinton even to acknowledge that she was the first female candidate of a major political party – which is very different from saying people should vote for her because she is a woman – was, according to the sceptics, to play the identity game.

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