Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The Worst Thing About Democrats

Don't worry; this isn't going to be a post attacking Kamala Harris. Am I wildly excited about her? Well, no, obviously not. My politics are what they are. But I guess with all the time it took to sink in that we actually chose Biden as a nominee, I've had time to resign myself. Realistically, once we chose him, there was never any chance that there was going to be anyone really exciting to vote for on the ticket, from a left perspective. She's fine for what she is, and I can easily see how she would excite some people. If it matters, which it doesn't, she'll absolutely lay waste to Pence if we have a VP debate this year. Whatever. You know what I think about mainstream Democrats; there's no need to rehash it here.

So I should preface this by saying that I actually think identity politics are very important. You can say that Obama didn't govern in as progressive a way as you'd've liked, but there is something very powerful and important about the cultural message: look, a black President, and it's totally normal and okay. Normalizing that idea is no small thing (of course, it's then somewhat undermined by Republicans deciding, "okay, if you get to elect a black President, then we should get to have a white supremacist"--but you know).

However, identity politics are not the only thing. Obviously. Or at should be obvious. I would think. But maybe not. Take a look at this, from the blog Lawyers Guns and Money:

Am I too cynical? I don't know. But the palpable desperation to make choosing Harris into an Inspirational Story (upvoted forty-four times!): I mean, say what you will about Hillary Clinton (and god knows I will), but she undeniably fought and won the Democratic nomination. Harris is obviously a highly accomplished professional, but in this specific instance, what exactly is that "little brown girl" thinking? "I too can someday dismally fail to win a nomination and then be chosen for a secondary role to try to offset the blinding whiteness of the victor?" Okay, maybe that's unfair. There's clearly some symbolic value here. It's just...I don't think that little brown girl is stupid. She has to have at least some understanding of the circumstances here. She's not going to be under the impression that Harris actually won anything.  Or so I think. Still, as a white guy, I'm probably on dicey ground even weighing in on this ("you should've thought of that before you started on this line of thought," would be the comment I'd get from the average LGM poster), so let's continue.

As I said, I accept Harris as VP candidate. There are things--quite a few things--I don't like about her, but on the whole it's as fine as one would expect from Biden. But apparently, as "chopper" none-too-subtly implies, that's not good enough: if you merely accept Harris, rather than uncritically worship her, you are a racist. And when I question this, all I get is passive-aggressive downvotes; no one even attempts to address the point.  Suggesting that there could ever be substantive issues beyond identity politics is an idea that just can't be countenanced, apparently.

Obviously, any given Democrat is better than any given Republican on every possible metric. But we are still human, and we still have huge, deeply embarrassing blind spots.


Anonymous Jeremy pontificated to the effect that...

I don't see anyone uncritically worshipping Kamala Harris. Here is Michelle Obama on the selection, though:

You get used to it, even as a little girl—opening the newspaper, turning on the TV, and hardly ever seeing anyone who looks like you. You train yourself to not get your hopes up. And sometimes it’s a battle just to keep telling yourself that you might deserve more. Because no matter how much you prepare, no matter what grades you get or even how high you rise at work, it always feels like someone is waiting to tell you that you’re not qualified. That you’re not smart enough. That you’re too loud or too bossy. That there’s just something about you…you’re just not quite the right fit. Change can be slow and frustrating, but signs of progress are all around us. This week Senator @KamalaHarris, the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, became the first Black woman and first Asian-American woman on a major party’s presidential ticket. I’ve been thinking about all those girls growing up today who will be able to take it for granted that someone who looks like them can grow up to lead a nation like ours. Because @KamalaHarris may be the first, but she won’t be the last. I am here for it all. Let us embrace and celebrate this moment. Go get ‘em girl.

I'm with Michelle on this one. Let's accept that as white men there are certain things we just won't understand, and that's okay. We can still celebrate with those who celebrate.

1:55 PM  

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