Saturday, August 05, 2017

Identity Pollitics Rears Its Head

Ryan Cooper believes "we're in for a rather bitter fight for supremacy over the Democratic Party between big money elites on one side and Sanders Democrats on the other."  He criticizes the recent boomlet for Senator Kamala Harris, who is derided for her work while Attorney General of California; New Jersey senator Cory Booker, distrusted because of his connections to Wall Street; and former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, who is a managing partner of Bain Capital. In turn, there have been dark, even illegitimate, implications that critics of the three are opposed because they are minority. (Booker and Patrick are African-American, Harris the daughter of a Jamaican-bor parent  and an India-born parent).

David Atkins calls for an end to this "civil war," wherein "voices within the Sanders coaliton"

that actively attempt to dismiss social discrimination as less important than class war must be ostracized from within not just because they are wrong, but because they actively hurt the cause of securing economic justice against the .1% in a party whose base has suffeed greatly from that discrimination....

Meanwhile, "establishment figures"

must acknowledge the need for a much more foreceful economic progressivism and accept that economic progressives also have valid litmus tests every bit as reasonable as those of social issue advocacy groups. Individuals who insist on trying to ostracize democratic socialists and treat their anti-corporate concerns as secondary or motivated by bigotry should be gently pushed aside themselves.

He recognizes

Some Sanders supporters eagerly want to see him run again in 2020, and are actively seeking to kneecap every potential challenger to him, especially those who might be able to more easily secure Hillary Clinton's coalition of older and minority voters.

On the other hand, establishment moderates since the early days of the Democratic Leadership Council have sought a marriage of the much-vaunted "Emerging Democratic Majorty" with an educated, upper-middle class, fiscally centrist donor class. This has been to the detriment of the economy as a whole, and to the electoral fortunes of the Democratic Party in general. They have no intention of taking a sharper sand against the predatory financial sector, and actively seek to use ideologically aligned women and minority candidates as a wedge against more readical activists who might threaten to alienate the wealthy donor class they have sought to woo away from the Republican Paty since the Reagan era.

This strategy is superior to disregarding the concerns (including for gun safety legislation or protection of reproductive freedom) of social justice warriors or one in which "anticorporate concerns (are treated) as secondary or motivated by bigory."

Yet Atkins fails to acknowledge that while the Sanders camp is generally favorable to the progressive approach to sexual preference, gender, and racial interests, Establishment Democrats have catered to the interests of the donor class. They have been cool (as in the case of the Clintons and Barack Obama) or downright cold- as with Harris, Booker, and Patrick- toward Wall Street regulation and policies which would impinge upon society's upper crust.

Regrettably, Atkins himself ascribes racial motivation. He argues "making an example of the top three African-American hopefuls in the 2020 field is a terrible mistake regardless of intent. It will backfire, and tarnish the entire movement as motivated by barely-contained bigotry.  "If not racist and sexist in motivation," he adds, "this strategy is racist and sexist in its effects and will attract the worst elements of society."

I have no idea what he means by "attract the worst elements of society." But speaking as someone otherwise not immune to the tactic, contending "if not racist and sexist in motivation" is a passive-aggressive way of charging racism and sexism. And rejecting three individuals- or two or four- for ideological reasons is not racist or sexist even in its effects.

Electing a white person isn't racist. Electing a male isn't sexist. It is, of course, if it is done because the person is white or male- but there are solid reasons of principle that Democrats interested in economic justice would be highly skeptical of Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Deval Patrick. For some of us, including the vast majority of Bernie Sanders supporters, an individual's record and his or her views are more important than characteristics set at birth.

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