What Constitutes Identity Politics?

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THE PLANK FEBRUARY 29, 2008

What Constitutes Identity Politics?

Ann Friedman has an excellent and much needed piece on identity politics, which she argues have been played for a very long time:

But just because our front-running candidates are a woman and a black
man, it does not mean that this is the first election to hinge on
candidates' identities. All those other election years, when only white
guys were vying for the nomination, well, those were "identity
politics" races, too. Why weren't they framed that way? Because most of
the framers shared the identity of the candidates: white and male.

After all, Clinton and Obama and their supporters aren't playing
"identity politics" any more than John Kerry's supporters did in 2004,
or George W. Bush's did in 2000. It's absurd to suggest that the
Andover-Yale-Harvard-bred Bush adopting a swagger and thickening his
Texas accent, or John Kerry riding a borrowed Harley onto The Tonight Show
set, was anything other than identity politics. 

I would just add that more than a few people mocked Bush for his swagger and accent--and even more made fun of Kerry for his Harley-riding and hunting excursions. But Ann is definitely right that these things are not defined specifically as "identity politics".

Read the whole thing.

--Isaac Chotiner 

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