Thursday, January 2, 2020

Death of Identity Politics, Part II

The idea of "electing one of us" is flawed.

I opined that Pete Buttigieg's brief time in the sun may soon be eclipsed.   Once people look into his background and realize he shilled for a lot of corporate interests and is pretty conservative (by Democratic standards, anyway) they may change their minds about "Mayor Pete" - and start to ask themselves if serving as mayor of a failing rust-belt town is all the credentials and experience you need to be President.   Don't we already have a guy who doesn't know what he is doing?

Now, granted, to me, his work for "the big evil corporations" doesn't bother me.  But to the kind of folks who are willing to spend hours caucusing in Iowa, it might.   Primaries tend to bring out the extremists, and in the case of the Democratic party, it is the left-wing loonies.   Already sensing a damage control issue, several media outlets are attacking Elizabeth Warren as making "1.9 million" (or as the Washington Post puts it, "nearly $2 million") as an attorney and expert witness, apparently mostly related to bankruptcy issues.   However, it doesn't appear Warren has represented the Saudis (who are not terrorists, and donchufogetit! - Osama bin Laden musta been Welsh or something) or Enron.  Of course, neither has "Mayor Pete" but it isn't clear who he did represent and "The Firm" he worked for did represent a lot of odious interests, and yet he chose to work there.

It is a complicated issue, to be sure.  But my gut feeling is the looney left will shy away from Buttigieg when it comes out he worked for Dr. Evil.

My personal opinion is that he is too inexperienced to be President, and he will lose in the general election, as the heartland of America - you know, those States that put Trump over the top on the electoral map - are not ready for a gay president.  Just being realistic here - people may be accepting or tolerant of gays in rural areas, that doesn't mean they want them to represent the country.  It is telling that "Mayor Pete" didn't come out of the closet until after his first election in 2011, because he knew that times were a-changin', but maybe not changing so fast in rural Indiana.  Only in 2015, when it was "safe" to come out, that he did.  Congratulations, Mayor Pete!   I guess I have been "out" almost as long as "Mayor Pete" has been alive.   But then again, I wasn't as calculating.

Some would wonder why I am not a big fan of his.  After all, "don't you want one of your own in office?"   I think this is a flawed argument, and it illustrates the fallacy of identity politics.   To be sure, one reason Obama won - twice - was that he was able to get out the black vote.   A lot of folks voted for him, not based on his policies or positions, but on the assumption that somehow he would favor their cause - their race - over others.   In one infamous video, a young black girl opines, after Obama is elected, that he will pay off her credit cards.  But when such largess is not forthcoming, people become disillusioned.   In another interview, before the 2016 election, a barber in Milwaukee opined that he wasn't going to bother to vote for Hillary - because after eight years of Obama, "he didn't get me a 401(k) or nothing!" - apparently he didn't realize what a "self-funded" retirement actually means.

This is why direct democracy is probably a bad idea - they let just anyone vote.  /s

The problem with identity politics is that they simply don't work.  Giving a "shout out" to various demographic groups and then hoping they vote for you because you tagged them hasn't worked in the past and I doubt it will work in the future.   It certainly didn't work for Hillary.

Policy positions and other factors, to me, are more important.  And electability - as odious as that may seem, is part and parcel of this.  You see, it isn't enough that some candidate is "one of us" or panders to my particular interests, if they lose elections.  The Betos of the world are of no use, as losers don't get on Congressional committees or get to vote on legislation.  To a new generation, perhaps being famous seems akin to being in power.   But it isn't.  There is winning and losing, and nothing in-between.   No second prize, no "honorable mention" - no participation award.  Maybe this is the fallout from this "everyone is a winner" mentality that was foisted off on the new generation.

And electability means getting elected to a panoply of offices, not just the Presidency.  In order to make real change, you have to have votes in the House and Senate - as well as controlling a number of State legislatures and governorships.  These control the voting districts (gerrymandering - get over it, it's 200 years old!).   Without the State House, you can't get the White House.   And if you want to enact legislation, either you need a majority (or a super-majority) of your party, or have to be willing to compromise with the opposition to get something done.

Thus, if the Democratic party hopes to win elections in 2020, they either need to move toward the center, and make themselves more appealing to mainstream independent voters (the majority of Americans) or hope that something so horrible happens that people are willing to vote for anyone just to see change enacted.  The latter seems to be the strategy of the Democrats in 2020.  Impeachment, followed by a recession might be enough to propel Bernie or Buttigieg into the White House - well, that's the theory anyway.

It is a lousy strategy, though.  We saw Jimmy Carter elected as a result of Watergate.  People were turned off by the debacle that was Nixon, and it didn't help any that the economy was unraveling. But Carter - a good decent human being by all accounts - was out of his element, and served only one term.  The rest, as they say, is history - two terms of Reagan, followed by one of Bush.  A Bernie Presidency would only insure someone even more unhinged that Trump was elected in 2028.

Sadly, it seems the far left is not very mature in their political thinking - which is not hard to fathom, as many are under the age of 30, and as we are finding out, the human brain isn't fully developed until the mid-20's.

But as I noted in my last posting, this too, shall change.  People get older, grow up, get a house, a job, a spouse, maybe children.   They become part and parcel of the system they protested against.   It happened to the baby boomers.  Yippies become Yuppies.   And don't say "that will never happen to me" because it will, unless you have discovered some elixir of eternal youth.

Of course, there are older people who are fairly liberal - or at least espouse liberal causes.   Oddly enough, when I talk to them, their actual viewpoints are fairly conservative.  They realize it is safe to support Bernie, as even if he was elected, 90% of the stuff he espouses would never make it out of committee.  And as soon as the black people leave the room, they engage in the time-honored dirty little secret of liberals - making fun of black people's names.   Yes, that actually happens.  Maybe that is why Bernie isn't connecting with the Schwartzers.   Probably also why Mayor Pete isn't connecting, either.  They know.

But that is just the point - much heat and light has been made of the fact that the field of Democrats is narrowing down to "just a lot of white people" and one Asian guy (does he count as a "person of color" or not?  Just asking).   Democrats, we are told, want to see a rainbow of hues on the debate podium, so that everyone can identify with their candidate, just as they can have a favorite superhero of the X-men franchise.   Maybe they can all run together and be co-Presidents!

You laugh, I am sure someone out there on the far-Left is proposing just that.  Hey, it worked for the Womyn's Pottery Cooperative, right?  Why not the whole US of A?

In life, you have to compromise to win.   If you want to beat Trump, then you have to nominate someone who can beat him.   I am not sure that person is going to be a "Socialist Democrat" or whatever, or the first gay President, either.