Monday, November 05, 2012

Identity politics

Since I read this by Tom Scocca in Slate over the weekend, I've thought that I should comment on it.

There is a real, airtight bubble in this election, but it's not Obama's. As a middle-aged white man, in fact, I'm breaching it. White people—white men in particular—are for Mitt Romney. White men are supporting Mitt Romney to the exclusion of logic or common sense, in defiance of normal Americans. Without this narrow, tribal appeal, Romney's candidacy would simply not be viable. Most kinds of Americans see no reason to vote for him.

This fact is obfuscated because white people control the political media. So we get the Washington Post reporting that the election is "more polarized along racial lines than any other contest since 1988"...

Polarization would mean that various races were mutually pulling apart, toward their favored candidates. "Minorities" is not a race (nor, you may have noticed, is "women"). Minorities and women are the people standing still, while white men run away from them.

…White people don't like to believe that they practice identity politics. The defining part of being white in America is the assumption that, as a white person, you are a regular, individual human being. Other demographic groups set themselves apart, to pursue their distinctive identities and interests and agendas. Whiteness, to white people, is the American default. …

But in truth, I couldn't think of anything to say.

If you live in California, this sad development is simply obvious. We went over this hump back in the late 1990s and we know we aren't going back. The local Republican Party has become a strange, distorted white rump faction, unable to attract more than a third of the electorate. The rest of us are trying to figure out how to restore the state they broke on the way out the door. I tend to believe we'll get there, though it is going to be tough. We need to restore the democratic power to tax by simple majorities, rebuild our once great infrastructure and educational system, and turn from fear to hope. We're trying -- in particular, note that even today's hobbled California has launched several initiatives to recognize and combat with the threat of climate change, more than we can say for much of the nation.

Let's give Chris Rock the last word on this:

H/t Digby for the cartoon. H/t to Annie Laurie at Balloon Juice for Chris.

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