The Primacy of Identity

The left’s investment in identity politics has proven to reap rewards. In battling the concept that people should develop their senses of self in such a way as to deemphasize a relative superficiality like ethnicity, the planners and plotters and goers-along cleared the field for such results as this:

Political and sociological analysts in several interviews and teleconferences Nov. 5 pointed out that Obama’s vote among Catholics reflected a 7-point increase over the Catholic vote for Kerry.
The exit polls divided voters into “all Catholics” or white, non-Hispanic Catholics. In the latter group, the shift toward the Democratic candidate was less pronounced than among Catholics overall. Fifty-two percent of white Catholics supported McCain, and 47 percent voted for Obama. Majorities of white Catholics also voted for Bush in both his elections, by 56 percent in 2004 and 52 percent in 2000.
Approximately 40 percent of U.S. Catholics are Hispanic and another 3 percent are African-American. Asian and Pacific Islanders constitute about 4 percent.
Latinos nationwide voted for Obama by 67 percent to 31 percent for McCain. African-Americans voted for Obama by 95 percent to 4 percent. Asians supported Obama by 62 percent to 35 percent.

Without doubt, the inauguration of a black man represents a milestone in America, but there is potential, at least, for race to increase its prominence, as the now-more-powerful identity contingent wrings its investment for every drop of power.

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Phil
Phil
12 years ago

The analysts agreed that voters based their election choices primarily on issues such as the economy, health care and the war in Iraq, rather than on issues typically identified as major religious concerns: abortion and same-sex marriage.
That is from the same article Justin referenced. It’s strange how Justin sees only what he wishes and excludes the rest. I think that the only identity Justin should concern himself with is his own.

Justin Katz
12 years ago

Phil,
People always say they vote based on issues. I’d note, though, that the Wasthington Post recently admitted that it didn’t spend as much time on issues as it might have, focusing instead on personality, horserace, and the historical nature of the election. I’d also note that the article that I link here says that the bishops’ statements related to abortion did indeed have an effect.
I haven’t compared specific results with past elections to this degree, but it wouldn’t surprise me if social issues were cited less by voters: If they wanted to vote for the minority candidate but also wanted to feel as if they were voting based on issues, they’d have had to focus on anything other than the cultural issues on which he’s to their left.
The larger point, though, is that I didn’t claim that identity politics were everything. I think they were decisive, but decisive requires a very small margin, these days.
As for your personal attacks, well, they’re getting boring.

Phil
Phil
12 years ago

“but there is potential, at least, for race to increase its prominence, as the now-more-powerful identity contingent wrings its investment for every drop of power.”
“The larger point, though, is that I didn’t claim that identity politics were everything. I think they were decisive, but decisive requires a very small margin, these days.”
I notice a distinct difference in tone in the two statements. The past election was decided on and by the economy. Both campaigns have said that the economic crisis was the deciding factor for the uncommitted voters. Race and the importance of racial (identity if you prefer) politics in this election will be the subject of debate for years to come. Your obsession with the subject is what is getting boring.

rhody
rhody
12 years ago

Identity politics is a game played by both sides.
The GOP is probably complaining this time because its strong appeals to the white working-class voter and the ethnic Catholic voter didn’t fare as well as they did the previous two elections, to the point where we’re seeing the right question the religious faith of Catholics who had the temerity to vote for Obama.

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