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.And this observation: "This is the logical extreme of the identity politics that as been floating around this country for decades. Every revolution devours its offspring, and it seems the multicultural one does, too."
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.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Clinton, Obama, and Identity Politics
David Brooks has an insightful article this morning in the NYT on identity politics. Excerpt: