Identity Politics Gave Us President Trump; More Identity Politics Will Not Make Things Better

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Identity politics cultists created Donald Trump, President-Elect Edition, and from much of their subsequent complaining they haven’t learned a single thing from their mistake

Blogger and polemicist Phil Hendren is in unsparing mood as he takes the identity politics Left to task for their role in provoking the alleged “whitelash” which confounded the opinion polls and made Donald Trump president-elect of the United States last Tuesday.

Hendren’s critique is worth quoting at length, as he writes:

Of course, the political earthquakes have been followed in each case with a sentimental reaction that is both odd and downright scarier than the actual earthquake. This has been coupled with a lack of self-awareness by the losing side.

Be it Brexit or Trump we’ve seen knee-jerk reactions that ponder upon whether democracy is such a great idea after all. Amazingly we have idiots screaming about fascism whilst simultaneously suggesting that something be done about the pesky plebs that voted one way or the other.

They moan about bigotry whilst suggesting that the franchise be removed from certain people who are not suitably intelligent or are too old to be trusted with a vote - call me old-fashioned but that is bigotry right there.

You listen to analysts who say they are “just reporting the data” that tell you Trump scored well with “white males without a college degree”. Has there ever been a more obvious coded dog whistle for “stupid white trash”?

The same thing happened in Britain after the Brexit vote. People started arguing that it was those with less education that voted Leave, the implication being that the stupid unenlightened were to blame.

It astounds me that, as the hand-wringing goes on, there persists, even in defeat, a complete and total contempt for some part of the electorate by the chattering class and the elite.

Don’t they get it? Do they really not see that it is precisely that attitude toward the great unwashed that has caused them to lose? Don’t they also realise that they’re witnessing the ultimate end game of their own orthodoxies?

For the past 20 years, the dominant orthodoxy in the West has revolved around the politics of Identity. We’ve been constantly reminded that humanity should be pigeonholed into groups based on race, gender, sexuality or the Other.

The elephant in the room of this orthodoxy has been the marginalisation of the considered dominant social identity, be it so-called ‘cis-gender’ (essentially a pejorative for someone who’s gender identity is in line with their biology) ; heterosexuals; or good old whitey - aka ‘the oppressor’.

Is it any wonder that these groups have reacted by taking on the clothes of Identity Politics themselves? Anyone that claims to be shocked or disgusted by this development is, to put it as bluntly as I can, a fucking idiot.

If you constantly dehumanise people by making them the sum of arbitrary labels, and then you push the view that each of these groups is structurally disadvantaged by the oppressor then you inevitably structurally disadvantage the oppressor who begins to feel, rightly or wrongly, oppressed.

It isn’t fucking rocket science.

The vote for Brexit and the vote for Trump do not represent some sort of uprising of white supremacy, or the normalisation of misogyny and racism. They represent the inevitable consequence of this misanthropic orthodoxy that has infected the chattering class, the Academy and the elites.

Did I vote for Brexit? No, I was a reluctant (and regretful) Remainer. Would I have voted for Trump? Hell no. He’s an illiberal social authoritarian that supports ridiculous left wing protectionism, but I get why people did.

Until the elite and chattering “enlightened” class begin to realise that they’ve created this. That they are to blame for it, these political earthquakes will keep on coming.

My emphasis in bold.

As an anti-Trump conservative watching the reaction to Trump’s election with amazement and concern, I am absolutely stunned by the lack of introspection and self-awareness displayed by much of the Left.

As this blog has already noted, Donald Trump supporters propelled their man to the White House largely by following the proven playbook of the leftist Social Justice Warriors, and they were able to do so because of the pervasive victimhood culture which has been nurtured and aggravated in America by a succession of cynical politicians and activists.

As Hendren rightly notes, if you atomise society into “separate but equal” identity groups based on race, gender or sexuality, you inevitably spark an arms race of perceived oppression and claims of vulnerability which far exceed the actual real oppression which may still exist. Grievance group is pitched against grievance group in the battle of public sympathy, with only one constant – that “cisgender” white men are always portrayed at the top of the Hierarchy of Oppression, always cast as the villains – whether they live in a New York condominium with gold-plated elevators or an Appalachian trailer park on the outskirts of a town being ravaged by crystal meth and heroin addiction.

I’ve warned about this before, in the context of the oppressive climate faced by young conservatives on college campuses, pointing out that it will not be long before those with conservative views tire of being bullied, censored and portrayed as “hateful” by the social justice mob which the tacit consent of spineless university administrators, and begin to use the same language of vulnerability and victimhood to elicit public sympathy for their own plight. Conservatives see other “identity groups” taking this approach and winning their battles to silence criticism and elevate themselves to a privileged, untouchable position on campus, and already we signs of some harried conservatives adopting the same approach.

So it is outside the university campus too, in wider society. Many millions of decent, non-racist and non-sexist people, often (but not exclusively) white, have been told increasingly stridently that questioning open borders or very recent new norms around gender identity and sexuality is tantamount to “hate” – that they are, in fact, bigots. Leftist identity politics cultists have increasingly deployed the nuclear option accusations of racism, sexism and homophobia against anybody who displays the slightest hesitation in embracing their worldview, leaving no way to distinguish and flag genuinely racist, sexist or homophobic opinions or actions when they occur.

And now we face the worst-case scenario, a white working class which sees other minority groups claiming vulnerability and oppression to demand sympathy and claim perks, and which has decided to think of itself as an oppressed minority group too. A very large, very powerful minority group, as it turns out.

We even get an eerily prescient prophecy that this will come to pass in a 2008 essay by Mark Schmitt in Prospect Magazine, written six months prior to the election of Barack Obama in his battle against John McCain.

Schmitt suggests:

That leaves Republicans with a single alternative, one that’s embodied in the slogan of McCain’s first general-election advertisement: “The American President Americans Are Waiting For.” It’s the politics of identity–not necessarily racial or ethnic identity but identity as an American. The blog FiveThirtyEight.com, which has been gathering all sorts of data relevant to the Electoral College vote, recently noted a fascinating demographic fact: About 7 percent of people refuse to answer the Census questions about ethnic origin and instead write in “American.” Those defiant Americans are overwhelmingly found in the states and counties that turned away from the Democratic Party in 2000 and 2004–the Appalachian belt running from West Virginia through Kentucky, Tennessee, and southern Ohio–which are also the counties where Barack Obama has done worst in the primaries.

David Frum calls explicitly for this brand of identity politics, declaring that while the Republican Party’s issue positions have evolved over the years, “there is one thing that has never changed: Republicans have always been the party of American democratic nationhood,” whereas Democrats “attract those who felt themselves in some way marginal to the American experience: … intellectuals, Catholics, Jews, blacks, feminists, gays–people who identify with the ‘pluribus’ in the nation’s motto, ‘e pluribus unum.'” In case it’s not clear, in Frum’s Latin, “pluribus” means “parasites,” and he tells us helpfully, “As the nation weakens, Democrats grow stronger.”

In Frum’s book, this ugly bit of identity politics is carefully nestled within thousands of words about policy. And this is how the code is supposed to work. The GOP’s attack on “liberals” was always an attack on people not quite like “Americans”–secular, cosmopolitan, educated, egalitarian.

[..]

Traditionally, the phrase “identity politics” has referred to the Democratic coalition’s caucuses, interest groups, and competitive claims of wrongs to be righted and rights to be granted. Identity politics on the left, according to this very conventional wisdom, opened the door to an alternative politics of national identity on the right. And yet in 2008, the Democratic presidential nomination battle between an African American and a woman has not exacerbated left identity politics but brought it to a peaceful close. Obama is not Jesse Jackson; Hillary Clinton is not former Rep. Pat Schroeder. He chose to campaign on national reconciliation, she on bread-and-butter economics and her expertise on military affairs. Whereas McCain–a man whose known positions on the war and on the economy are deeply unpopular, whose other positions are endlessly shifting, whose party and ideology are rejected–is recast entirely in terms of his biography, his honor, his character, his American-ness.

This year the Republican argument is reduced to its barest essence: Americans versus “pluribus,” unprotected by the politeness of issues or safer symbolism. Hence McCain’s slogan, the politics of the flag pin, the e-mails charging that Obama doesn’t salute the flag, and the attempt to associate him with the anti-American politics of 1968, when he was 7 years old. This, then, may be the ultimate high-stakes gamble for the party of confident risk-takers: Accept that everything else–ideas, competence, governance–is gone, and instead of trying to reconstruct it, as the books recommend, bet everything on the bare essentials of Republican identity politics, “The American President Americans Are Waiting For.”

“The American President Americans Are Waiting For”. “Make America Great Again”. Schmitt wasn’t too far off in his prediction of the winning message, albeit eight years later than originally planned.

Read the whole article if you have time – the foreshadowing is quite spooky.

This is in significant part why Donald Trump will be taking the presidential oath of office on 20th January 2017 – because the American Left succeeded in shattering American society into a fractured group of warring special interests and victim groups, claiming nearly all of them for its own side but leaving the largest – the white working class – to the Trump-led Republicans.

And still they don’t see it. Still they rail against the ignorant, inbred hicks with their backward, racist ways. Still they treat the plurality of Americans who voted for Donald Trump as stupid, unwitting enablers of fascism (at best) or actively hateful “deplorables” at worst, unaware that every further such comment only serves to prove to the white working class that they are indeed under attack, and that they were right to band together and vote based partly (even largely) on the solidarity of identity.

At some point, somebody fairly prominent on the American Left is going to have to wake up, reach this conclusion and then have the courage to stick their head above the parapet and urge their fellow travellers to stop their destructive course of action. With their hysterical anti-Trump rhetoric, the American Left not only obscure Donald Trump’s many real and tangible flaws, they actively feed the monster which they fear the most.

Now that the populist Right are catching up with the new rules of the game, playing the identity politics card is turning into something approaching Mutual Assured Destruction. Sure, you can do it, but pandering to the politics of identity is now all but guaranteed to provoke an equal and opposite reaction from those being singled out as oppressors. And whoever wins on any given day, the country is left more divided, more bitter and less able to knit back together with goodwill when it comes time to govern.

The American Left needs to step back from this madness. Now.

 

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Donald Trump Victory Reaction: Aaron Sorkin To The Rescue

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Never fear, helpless women of America. Swashbuckling feminist icon Aaron Sorkin is here to save you from the evil clutches of Donald Trump

In a masterful piece of virtue signalling, well befitting somebody who made his name and career writing for television and Hollywood, Aaron Sorkin (creator of The West Wing, The Newsroom and Facebook movie The Social Network) has written an open letter to his wife and daughter – less for their own benefit, of course, and more to show off his impeccably progressive, anti-Trump credentials to the world.

Unfortunately, Sorkin appears not to have dedicated the same time to this sanctimonious little letter as he would have given to the script for a good episode of The West Wing, and his clumsy attempt at virtue-signalling reveals his Hollywood liberal cynicism in all its ugly glory.

Aaron Sorkin writes (my emphasis in bold):

Sorkin Girls,

Well the world changed late last night in a way I couldn’t protect us from. That’s a terrible feeling for a father. I won’t sugarcoat it—this is truly horrible. It’s hardly the first time my candidate didn’t win (in fact it’s the sixth time) but it is the first time that a thoroughly incompetent pig with dangerous ideas, a serious psychiatric disorder, no knowledge of the world and no curiosity to learn has.

And it wasn’t just Donald Trump who won last night—it was his supporters too. The Klan won last night. White nationalists. Sexists, racists and buffoons. Angry young white men who think rap music and Cinco de Mayo are a threat to their way of life (or are the reason for their way of life) have been given cause to celebrate. Men who have no right to call themselves that and who think that women who aspire to more than looking hot are shrill, ugly, and otherwise worthy of our scorn rather than our admiration struck a blow for misogynistic shitheads everywhere. Hate was given hope. Abject dumbness was glamorized as being “the fresh voice of an outsider” who’s going to “shake things up.” (Did anyone bother to ask how? Is he going to re-arrange the chairs in the Roosevelt Room?) For the next four years, the President of the United States, the same office held by Washington and Jefferson, Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, F.D.R., J.F.K. and Barack Obama, will be held by a man-boy who’ll spend his hours exacting Twitter vengeance against all who criticize him (and those numbers will be legion). We’ve embarrassed ourselves in front of our children and the world.

Oh I’m sorry, I thought that we were supposed to have moved past dated and oppressive gender stereotypes, like the idea that the Big Strong Man is supposed to defend the helpless women in his life from Bad Things? Yet Aaron Sorkin seems to believe that it was his duty as a man to protect and defend his wife and daughter from the outcome of a presidential election in which his wife was also able to take full part, as though neither woman had any agency of their own.

And “Sorkin girls” – really?

But then we should not be surprised by any of this. This is a man whose television shows (The West Wing is one of my all time favourites, and doubtless will now be so again for many a dejected Democrat in the Age of Trump) have long been renowned for their continual mockery, downplaying and diminution of women.

Besides Abigail Bartlet, Nancy McNally or Amy Gardner (and even she is doubtful sometimes), name a strong female character in The West Wing. Seriously, I’m waiting. The female characters with the most airtime, like Donna Moss or Ainsley Hayes, are little more than comic relief, particularly in the early seasons before Sorkin got booted off his own show.

The same goes for Sorkin’s more recent show, The Newsroom, but to an even greater degree. Every female character save Leona Lansing (played by Jane Fonda), no matter how senior they happen to be, is portrayed as a bumbling, gaffe-prone fool, flapping around helplessly as the men in their lives chuckle and give wry smiles at their foolish antics. But sure, Donald Trump is the man with an unprecedentedly unenlightened view towards women.

Oh, and let’s not forget that great America-bashing monologue which Aaron Sorkin wrote to open The Newsroom, in which he has lead character Will McAvoy say:

We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and cultivated the world’s greatest artists and the world’s greatest economy. We reached for the stars, and we acted like men. We aspired to intelligence; we didn’t belittle it; it didn’t make us feel inferior. We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election, and we didn’t scare so easy. And we were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed. By great men, men who were revered.

My emphasis in bold.

America was great when we all acted like MEN. America used to be informed by great MEN. And no, I’m not quoting selectively. The balancing paragraph lauding the achievements of great American women never comes, because Sorkin probably didn’t give a moment’s thought to the accomplishments of women when he wrote the scene. And yet now he is a brave, anti-Trump feminist who despises the new president-elect’s unreconstructed view toward the fairer sex while displaying many of those same condescensions himself, albeit in slightly less vulgar form.

But surely Sorkin is on safe ground when he adversely compares Donald Trump to previous American presidents, all of whom had supremely progressive and enlightened attitudes towards women and were paragons of virtue. Presidents like John F. Kenne — oh, wait. At least Sorkin is smart enough not to mention Bill Clinton.

Sorkin continues with some good old homespun, patriarchal, husbandly / fatherly advice:

So what do we do?

First of all, we remember that we’re not alone. A hundred million people in America and a billion more around the world feel exactly the same way we do.

Second, we get out of bed. The Trumpsters want to see people like us (Jewish, “coastal elites,” educated, socially progressive, Hollywood…) sobbing and wailing and talking about moving to Canada. I won’t give them that and neither will you. Here’s what we’ll do…

Because there’s nothing more mature than throwing baseless charges of anti-Semitism at the nearly half of voting Americans who chose Donald Trump. And because I’m sure Aaron Sorkin would be happy to be associated with the craziest and most unpleasant fan of his own fans, just as he seems happy to slander Trump and his many supporters with their most disreputable endorsements.

More:

…we’ll fucking fight. (Roxy, there’s a time for this kind of language and it’s now.) We’re not powerless and we’re not voiceless. We don’t have majorities in the House or Senate but we do have representatives there. It’s also good to remember that most members of Trump’s own party feel exactly the same way about him that we do. We make sure that the people we sent to Washington—including Kamala Harris—take our strength with them and never take a day off.

We get involved. We do what we can to fight injustice anywhere we see it—whether it’s writing a check or rolling up our sleeves. Our family is fairly insulated from the effects of a Trump presidency so we fight for the families that aren’t. We fight for a woman to keep her right to choose. We fight for the First Amendment and we fight mostly for equality—not for a guarantee of equal outcomes but for equal opportunities. We stand up.

My oh my, this is starting to get awfully problematic. Isn’t it a bit, um, like, oppressive and gender stereotypical for a white male like Aaron Sorkin to presume to give the women in his life permission to use bad language, as he seems to do in his letter?

More:

Roxy, I know my predictions have let you down in the past, but personally, I don’t think this guy can make it a year without committing an impeachable crime. If he does manage to be a douche nozzle without breaking the law for four years, we’ll make it through those four years. And three years from now we’ll fight like hell for our candidate and we’ll win and they’ll lose and this time they’ll lose for good. Honey, it’ll be your first vote.

The battle isn’t over, it’s just begun. Grandpa fought in World War II and when he came home this country handed him an opportunity to make a great life for his family. I will not hand his granddaughter a country shaped by hateful and stupid men. Your tears last night woke me up, and I’ll never go to sleep on you again.

Love,

Dad

Seriously, Aaron, you fell asleep on your daughter as she was crying in reaction to Donald Trump’s victory? Do you not care about making your house a safe space for marginalised and oppressed groups like the women in your life? Did a privileged white male like yourself really shun his duty to create a “place of comfort and home” for those who suffer oppression, or who will surely do so under Donald Trump’s tyrannical reign?

Everyone knows that when good Social Justice Warriors see oppression taking place they fight tirelessly to shame it on Twitter – they don’t fall asleep in front of the TV with the remote control resting on their belly. What kind of person are you?

There’s nothing else for it, I’m afraid. I hereby call a universal boycott of every single Aaron Sorkin television show or movie ever made in the past, as well as all of those yet to be made in the future, until he writes a new open letter to his wife and daughter. In this letter, Sorkin should apologise to them (and to the American people) for his outsized role in furthering the interests of the patriarchy through his work, pledge to immediately attend an Avoiding Common Microaggressions re-education camp for people of privilege, tithe at least 50 percent of his future income to EMILY’s List and promise henceforce to only produce work which conforms with the catechism of the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics.*

* To be judged by an artistic censorship committee comprising Jerelyn Luther, Bonita Tindle, Jonathan Butler, Fran “Holier than Peter Tatchell” Cowling and other prominent SJWs.

If Aaron Sorkin does all of this and manages to single-handedly bring down the Trump presidency then he may – just may – be able to atone for the harm done to women and girls everywhere by his oppressive, patriarchal letter.

But until then, you are on notice, Mr. Male Hero Feminist Champion Man. Nobody is buying your schtick.

 

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Top Image: Ondra Soukup / Wikimedia Commons

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William Hague’s Bizarre Critique Of Donald Trump

Donald Trump Hosts Nevada Caucus Night Watch Party In Las Vegas

William Hague is just the latest media personality to use Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy as an opportunity for virtue-signalling, rhetorical target practice

William Hague is getting rusty.

The former Conservative Party leader has already shredded his reputation among real conservatives through his shameful support of David Cameron and the Remain campaign. And now, added to that, his latest column on the US presidential election is written with all of the insight of someone who has been paying no attention to the American political scene for years, and is basing their hastily-written column on all of the most tired generalisations from a British television news report.

Whatever happened to the sparklingly witty and intellectually nimble political personality who could keep the House of Commons spellbound (or laughing uncontrollably) with his skills as a raconteur? Perhaps that side of William Hague is curled up in the foetal position, rocking backwards and forwards in shame and incredulity at what the europhile side is up to.

Hague begins with this remarkable statement about the main factors which should disqualify Donald Trump from becoming president of the United States:

Two characteristics make Trump fundamentally unfit to be president: his attitude to women and the way he treats rivals. The first of these, including crude and offensive remarks about female interviewers and candidates, shows deeply patronising instincts.

This isn’t just foul manners. It really matters because the way to liberate the greatest quantity of untapped talent in the 21st century is to achieve the full social, political and economic empowerment of women. Having a leader of the world’s most powerful country who shows no recognition of that cannot be a good idea.

His insulting response to rivals is another disastrous weakness in a potential global leader. The belittling of political opponents – “Lying Ted”, “Little Marco” and so on – shows no grasp of the fact that any president must work with them in Congress the minute he or she is elected. Even worse, Trump’s bullying attitude to other countries – telling Mexico it will have to pay for a wall along its border – would be utterly counterproductive and diminish the power of the USA by destroying its moral authority and crucial ability to persuade others to act.

Of all the things that Hague could have picked as Donald Trump’s disqualifying features, he chooses to virtue-signal and cite Trump’s view of women – as though Trump’s public attitude to women is any worse than, say, JFK’s attitude and behaviour were in private. Of all the things about Trump that Hague can think of, his frequent obnoxiousness is deemed the most serious.

Nothing to do with Trump having no functional knowledge of trade or foreign policy. That’s fine, according to Hague – President Trump can pick all of that stuff up on the fly. But God forbid that the next occupant of the Oval Office says off-colour, crass things about people (despite claiming to have “the best words”).

Hague even goes on to specifically mention some of Trump’s more outlandish statements on foreign and defence policy, so it is not as though he is unaware of them:

When Trump says that South Korea and Japan should have their own nuclear weapons, rather than rely on America, and that the US should stop funding Nato, what he is advocating is the collapse of the entire security architecture of the western world. But the people voting for him and such policies are telling us that they are fed up with paying for the defence of other countries who do very little to look after themselves.

[..] Trump’s other main policy with an impact on all of us is trade protectionism: he wants to impose swingeing tariffs on imports from China and Mexico, and withdraw from new trade agreements. This would be another disastrous act. It would result in widespread retaliation against American products, higher prices for consumers, and lower growth for the world. For Britain, the ninth largest exporter in the world, such policies would be very bad news indeed.

But apparently itching to provoke a trade war and undermining the security structure which has protected the West since the Cold War – with no clear plan for its replacement – is less of a disqualifying factor than Trump’s ongoing feud with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly.

Hague’s broader point – that by supporting Donald Trump, his voters are sending an important message about longstanding, unresolved problems with the American economy – is a fair observation, though it is one which has been made by many other commentators (including this blog) for some time now and so hardly counts as original.

The awkward truth, of course, is that one of the primary drivers of the rise of populists like Donald Trump is the way that mainstream politicians have comported themselves, behaved in power and failed to govern on the platforms on which they ran for office. It is unsurprising that William Hague makes no mention of his, because he is a prime example of the kind of politician who pushes voters toward populists.

William Hague built a career and a reputation out of eurosceptic posturing. Yes, those who paid attention a little more closely could discern that Hague’s euroscepticism was not of the same nature or intensity of that of, say, Iain Duncan Smith. But Hague was nonetheless happy to hoover up eurosceptic support by making the right noises against Brussels and in favour of British sovereignty – right up until his stunning betrayal of the Brexit movement.

Similarly, the establishment Republicans now shunned and held in derision by Trump supporters also have a record of campaigning and posing one way, but acting in quite another. GOP voters have been let down in turn by cynical politicians cosying up to evangelical Christians and promising them the world, but then failing to prevent the enormous recent social changes in America. They have also been let down by the GOP’s brand of faux fiscal conservatism, which preaches the necessity of belt-tightening and cuts but often succeeds only in cutting taxes for higher-earners and exploding budget deficits.

Meanwhile, the Rick Santorum-esque wing of the Republican Party have either pretended that every American is a job-creating millionaire in waiting or talked about solidarity with the American worker while watching the American middle class getting squeezed and then decimated by the forces of globalisation without enacting a single proposal to help them make the adjustment to the new economy.

William Hague is right when he says “my experience of 30 years of elections is that when you think voters might have gone mad, they are actually trying to tell you something”. Unfortunately, what Trump voters are saying is that they are heartily sick of being lied to and peddled shiny promises of a New America which never come true.

Hague can focus on Trump’s abrasive and sometimes obnoxious personality all he wants, but it will not assauge his guilty conscience nor change the fact that his decision to support the Remain campaign in Britain’s EU referendum means that he himself has become just another flip-flopping politician of the type which feeds, not dampens, populist insurgencies like that of Donald Trump.

 

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Tales From The Safe Space, Part 13 – Identity Politics In The Dem Debate

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When will Bernie Sanders learn? If Hillary Clinton interrupts him while he is speaking, his job is to shut up and listen to whatever she has to say with gratitude

Identity Politics crept in to the latest Democratic primary debate on Sunday night in a particularly harrowing episode for all American women.

From Janell Ross’s account in the Chicago Tribune:

On Sunday night, Bernie Sanders was in the middle of explaining his rationale for having reservations about the 2008 auto bailout — too much of the aid went to Wall Street — when former Hillary Clinton interrupted. Clinton got out a few words before Sanders, hand raised and moving in the (surprisingly tight) space between the two candidates and interjected.

“Excuse me, I’m talking,” he said.

If you are still waiting for the scandalous part, you just missed it. That was it. Hillary Clinton interrupted Bernie Sanders while he was talking, and Sanders tried to continue his point by saying “excuse me, I’m talking”.

But something which to normal people might look like the bread and butter of political television debating is instead being whipped up into a narrative of Bernie Sanders’ deep-rooted, festering misogyny and his barely concealed contempt for Hillary Clinton on account of her gender.

Ross continues:

Clinton is the first woman with a serious shot at the Democratic presidential nomination, and therefore the first woman to spend this much time on debate stages with competition. And this is the age of Twitter, where what feel like the independently formed opinions and reactions of ordinary voters are super easy to access. And indeed, there were many reporters who wrote about this moment by quoting and pulling in other reporters’ totally serious tweets.

It all seems a bit light on substance and heavy on reaction — and reactions to reactions. And no one can climb inside Sanders’ mind and say with utter clarity what was swirling inside it. We do know that Clinton was the more experienced presidential debater on that stage. She also, by now, knows about Sanders’, shall we say, tendency to respond to Clinton with curmudgeonly chastisements and finger wags. He has said and done a few things in previous debates that people have described as chauvinistic. By that logic, Clinton may have interrupted Sanders on purpose in hopes that something like the “excuse me” moment would happen.

One could speculate a great deal about that. But then there is this: Why, at this late date and this many debates into the 2016 presidential election cycle, has Sanders made demonstrably little to no effort to alter the way he interacts with the woman he at least strongly suspected would be running against him from the day he declared his campaign? He has almost certainly had the same advice and information that every male candidate gets about the need to be constantly mindful about coming across like a chauvinist or a bully when on a debate stage facing a female competition.

“A bit light on substance” is an understatement for the ages. There was a time not so long ago where if either of the two candidates were to be admonished for anything, it would have been the candidate who interrupted, not the one who firmly but politely continued to make their point. But of course that was before the corrosive Politics of Identity began to eat away at our culture and our political discourse. And now, what each candidate thinks, says and does is far less important than who they are and into which identity categories they fall.

Now, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton both happen to be white, so that already puts them near the top of the Hierarchy of Oppression, vicariously responsible for all of the ills and misfortunes suffered by those beneath them. But Clinton has a slight advantage in that she also happens to identify as a female. And because the patriarchy (no further explanation needed), Sanders squeaks above Clinton to the top of the Oppression Pyramid, which means that our sympathies and bias must rest with her, whether she happens to be right or not on any given issue.

Only by viewing the exchange through this distorting lens of Identity Politics can one watch the exchange and come away with the impression that Hillary Clinton has been oppressed by a “chauvinistic” Bernie Sanders. Yet this is indeed what some people believe, and because they perceived Sanders to be behaving in a sexist way, under the Law of Identity Politics it is the responsibility of Sanders to modify his behaviour to correct that perception, even though it is a demonstrably false one.

In other words, as Janell Ross reminds us, something can be sexist simply because another person – even someone totally unconnected with the event – perceives it as being so:

Does Sanders have the capacity to recognize the way these moments look or think deeply about the degree to which sexism propels his debate-stage performances? Whether that chauvinism is real or imagined or even toyed with by his opponent for political gain, why can’t Sanders find a better way to manage these moments? And is some combination of all of the above something that a 21st-century presidential candidate has simply got to consider and manage effectively?

Does the inability or unwillingness to examine his body language, tone and actions for hints or indicators of sexism — if not real but perceived by some women — tell us all what we really need to know?

Yes! Doesn’t Bernie Sanders’ failure to modify his entire manner of speaking and body language in order to address perceptions of a sexism which doesn’t even exist tell us all that we need to know about just what a horrible person he is?

Though this seems (and is) utterly ridiculous, it is neither new nor unexpected. Modern hate speech laws and the actions of Western governments to suppress or discourage the exercise of free speech are based on the same principle – that it is the perceptions of the offended party which matter most of all, and which must be flattered and mollified at all costs.

But who is really demeaning and belittling women here? Is it Bernie Sanders, who clearly views Clinton as a formidable opponent (she is the presumptive Democratic Party presidential nominee, after all) and debates her with gusto, or is it the virtue-signalling feminist “allies” who go riding to her defence after a debate because they believe that women cannot withstand being contradicted with firm but polite words and one of Bernie Sanders’ ubiquitous (and non gender-specific) dismissive hand gestures?

Of course it is the people now crying “sexism!” who are themselves guilty of behaving in a truly sexist way, by treating a rich, powerful, well-connected 21st century American woman (Clinton) as somehow less capable than a somewhat less rich, less powerful, less well-connected man (Sanders), and consequently in need of their finger-wagging intercession on her behalf. But so powerful is the weapon that they wield – labelling their targets as sexist, chauvinist or even misogynist – that it is often easier to acquiesce rather than stand up to the Identity Politics power play.

Therefore, if he is to survive the Democratic Party primary season without having his reputation and good name completely torn to shreds, Bernie Sanders would do well to learn one valuable lesson: the next time that Hillary Clinton interrupts him, his role as a white cis man is to stand there meekly and just let her talk out the rest of the debate.

It’s the socially just way to behave.

 

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Time For A Woman To Lead The Labour Party? Yes, But Not Like This

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Andy Burnham’s Labour leadership campaign has its flaws, but these grasping allegations of sexism are cynical, shameful and unfounded

I dearly hope that one Andy Burnham rally was not all it took for me to become “part of the change” or whatever desperately lame slogan his supporters are now using, but today I actually find myself defending the man.

I have to take exception to the storm of manufactured outrage swirling around social media simply because Andy Burnham failed to agree – when asked on the radio – that he should effectively step aside from the leadership contest so that a woman can win.

During BBC Radio 5 Live’s Labour leadership hustings today, Andy Burnham was asked whether it would be “great” if Labour chose a female leader. And Burnham, realising that to say yes would be to effectively denigrate his own campaign, replied “When the time is right, when the right leader comes along”, clearly meaning when the future woman leader did not have to win at his own expense.

But in today’s charged and cynical atmosphere – fed at all times by the virtue signalling Twitterverse – you would think that Burnham had ordered his two female leadership opponents out of the leadership contest and back to the kitchen.

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