For white identity politics

Sometimes, you just can’t do better than satire.  This piece in McSweeney’s is terrific, “I am against identity politics; by which I mean I am for white identity politics.”

I believe everyone deserves a fair shot in life once people who already have a bunch of advantages are given a few extra fair shots in life if they ever make a mistake. I believe in kindness, decency, and treating your neighbors with respect unless they might cause property values to go down. I believe that politicians should be accountable to certain kinds of people. I believe that, when it comes down to it, we all have similar hopes, fears, and dreams, and it is our job to support each other’s dreams unless it makes us uncomfortable or requires courage.

Which is why, when I hear people talking about identity politics, I — quite rationally — can’t help but get upset and irrationally angry. I mean, enough is enough from a certain perspective. The LGBTQ constituency, the African-American constituency, immigrants, women, Native Americans — all these groups are facing difficulties, and for some reason they think politicians should speak to those difficulties. But I know better. I know that’s a trap. The only way to win elections is to sort of speak to those difficulties but mostly don’t…

Or, here’s a simpler test: does the issue affect Puerto Rico? Then it’s not a kitchen-table issue. But if the issue affects Martha’s Vineyard, then it is.

Redlining, discrimination in housing loans, predatory lending practices, state violence, unequal infrastructure spending: these are just a few of the things that don’t affect me and therefore don’t affect anybody.

Avoid lightning rod issues. Colin Kaepernick is a no. Trans people accessing the right bathroom is a no. Instead, focus on issues that white people from all backgrounds can relate to.

I understand tactics. So before you criticize me, let me say that I am a student of the Civil Rights Movement, which is why I know that the number one way to get anything done in Washington is through civility. Don’t break unjust laws, and trust that white moderates will eventually do the right thing at some distant point. But don’t forget what’s most important. To paraphrase W.E.B. Du Bois, “The problem of the 21st century is the problem of the class line.”

You might not like this, but it’s true: If Dems want to win, they also need to stop being so politically correct and elitist. Remember how Republicans kept saying they wanted their politicians to be more politically incorrect, and then when Hillary Clinton said something that was politically incorrect — that many of Trump’s followers were “deplorable,” which the past three years have proven to be empirically true — Republicans suddenly didn’t like political incorrectness and called her cruel? See, being politically incorrect is good. It gets people on your side so long as they aren’t predisposed to dislike you through years of social and political conditioning linking your gender, beliefs, and background to moral degeneracy despite all the evidence to the contrary.

When AOC or Ilhan Omar says something that’s politically incorrect, they are un-American traitors. When a Republican says something politically incorrect, they are a hero of the common man. Dems: keep up!


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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