Sunday, August 31, 2008

Identity Politics for Republicans

Ok, some of the bien-pensants are tut-tutting over Gov Palin because she represents identity politics practiced by Republicans and that's just not our cup of tea, you know?

I disagree with this one, and frankly it doesn't seem to hard sort out. First of all, let's agree that she is an identity politics VP choice as we set straight the kind of diversity hire she is. She's not an appeal to solidarity with the Hillary-esque sisterhood of the traveling pantsuit (more on that later). She is "one of us" for prolifers, gun owners, nuclear families, Westerners and libertarians, all various constituents of the conservative base who've been less than thrilled with the trends in American politics over the last few years. People have come out of the woodwork with new enthusiasm not just for this election, but for politics in general. If you chase this stuff around the internet a little bit, there's a significant hope around the web that John McCain won't be a drag on the Palin ticket. So, let's emphasize that, out of the many many things that Gov Palin on the ticket represents, this is the most important one.

Would a Harold Palin with the same resume have gotten picked? Of course not. A woman who hunts, fishes, and plays basketball is ten times as exotic as a man. At bottom, this pick is about the citizenship of Americans. We don't have to defer to the "experts", our "betters" to work the machinery of government. We're perfectly capable of handling it ourselves, thankyouverymuch.

Back to Hillary. Getting the Hillary deadenders is something to hope for but not count on. The important thing about them is that for many of them it's not about policy, and never was. It's that Hillary, a Senator with a huge national profile, gets the big office, and somebody else has to suck it up and be a team player instead of the otherway around as some form of karmic payback. Obviously it didn't work out that way. Now their primary voting motivation is to punish Barack Obama and those elements of the Democratic party who were instrumental in nominating Obama over Hillary. The idea that Hillary tries to throw her support to Obama (or not, for cynics) doesn't change things at all. In fact, it makes it worse. Frankly, I suspect their grievance will be forgotten by Election Day. I don't think Palin really makes much difference except that it rubs the wound raw for a few more days. But for the most part George W. Bush won reelection without them anyway. If somehow they vote Republican John McCain will happy to take their votes. Otherwise going after them too hard is a distraction.

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