Obama and Clinton Can’t Escape Identity Politics
Both Clinton and Obama have eagerly donned the mantle of identity politics. A Clinton victory wouldn’t just be a victory for one woman, it would be a victory for little girls everywhere. An Obama victory would be about completing the dream, keeping the dream alive, and so on.
Fair enough. The problem is that both the feminist movement Clinton rides and the civil rights rhetoric Obama uses were constructed at a time when the enemy was the reactionary white male establishment. Today, they are not facing the white male establishment. They are facing each other.
All the rhetorical devices that have been a staple of identity politics are now being exploited by the Clinton and Obama campaigns against each other. They are competing to play the victim. They are both accusing each other of insensitivity. They are both deliberately misinterpreting each other’s comments in order to somehow imply that the other is morally retrograde.
All the habits of verbal thuggery that have long been used against critics of affirmative action, like Ward Churchill and Thomas Sowell, and critics of the radical feminism, like Christina Hoff Summers, are now being turned inward by the Democratic front-runners.
As this link shows, the Clinton campaign is supporting, if not actually inciting, a Nevada State Teachers Association lawsuit against the Culinary Workers Union. The reason? The Culinary Workers Union has arranged for its members to caucus in their workplaces, to cast their votes in the hotels and casinos that support that state’s economy instead of taking time off to get to polling places — at the risk of getting fired.
That lawsuit was filed right after the Culinary Workers Union endorsed Obama.
Gosh. What a coincidence. It’s an unfair disadvantage, the teachers union lawsuit says — they are supporting Hillary — to let all those maids and bellboys vote while they are on the job.
The caucus is on the 19th. It’s a Saturday. I guess the teachers are going to be — really busy compared to those maids and bellboys?
I don’t know this for a fact but my guess is that the Nevada’s Teachers Association is more entrenched in the state power hierarchy than the Culinary Workers Union. It’s more white, more middle class. I bet the teachers are much more spread out, demographically and geographically, firmly ensconced in tenured security.
The Culinary Workers Union, on the other hand, represents all the little brown people who clean hotel rooms in Las Vegas and Reno. Living and working from day to day.
Well, maybe the candidates are putting the identity politics behind them….