In Defense of Identity Politics

Identity politics, as practiced by Democrats, is dehumanizing and  horrible.  They reduce people to one or two characteristics and then tell those groups that Republicans hate them, want them held back in life and that Democrats are their only ally in Washington .  And it works spectacularly.

Whether it’s women, lower-income families, Hispanics, gays, blacks or young people, the Democrats have been successful in convincing them that Republicans only care about the group they are not.  Republicans (or conservatives, whichever you identify with in elections) must realize that simply having the better message doesn’t matter if huge voting blocks have heard for years that your values and message don’t apply to them.  I know “identity politics” has become a dirty phrase on the right, but it’s time to do damage control.  Just insisting that we’re not racist or sexist or homophobic and hoping people get the message isn’t working.

In July 2011 I spent a weekend at a friend’s beach house on Fire Island, NY.  It was me and 4 or 5 gay couples.  The owner of the house had warned them ahead of time that I was a conservative.  At first we all sort of steered clear of politics, but after awhile we started talking about the 2012 Republican primary.  We talked reasonably about issues and found that we agreed on many things.  Then I heard the phrase I’ve heard many times (as I’m sure you have):  Well, you’re ok, but all your Republican leaders are crazy.  They hate gays [or women or blacks or Hispanics].

Again, reaching out to various groups isn’t just about gaining votes, but doing damage control.  There are conservative groups that represent blacks, young people, women, gays, and Hispanics.  Not only do we need to use people who have demonstrated that they’re good communicators, but also give those people a seat at the table and implement their ideas.  Unfortunately, may of these groups’ leaders have to spend a lot of time convincing party leaders to listen to them rather than getting support and resources.  Party leaders are all to happy to take the votes, but don’t want to invest the money or time to get them.