Here's a couple of great examples of how the right completely misses the point when it comes to identity politics. Ever since Barack Obama started winning primaries--especially since he started pulling 90+% of the African-American vote in polling--there's been a claim from the right that black voters voting for a black candidate is somehow racist. That claim took on yet another angle this weekend when Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama for President--Rush Limbaugh couldn't spread the word fast enough.
And yet, Sarah Palin's latest argument for why women should vote for John McCain is based solely on her possession of a vagina.
"Our opponents think that they have the women's vote all locked up which is a little presumptuous since only our side has a woman on the ticket," Palin said to strong applause.Now I will admit that there was a time when I thought that if a woman was on the ticket, all women would vote for her. And then I turned 16 right around the time Mondale/Ferraro went down to a huge defeat, so I learned.
There are no doubt some African-Americans who are voting for Barack Obama simply because he's black, just as there are no doubt some women motivated by Sarah Palin's gender to support her, but the majority of voters aren't motivated by such simple notions. If they were, we'd have had a woman as President already, since women outnumber men. If they were, African-American Republicans would be able to garner more than 15% of the black vote in statewide elections.
It's just funny to watch the Republican party flail around in this way. It's new to them, the idea that they might have to try to pay attention to anyone other than white men and submissive women, and so they're clumsy in their responses, and they do it badly. The nation is changing, and the Republican party will eventually figure out that they'll have to appeal to both women and people of color in order to stay viable, and that they'll probably have to move away from social issues to do that, and if they figure that out, the country will be a better place for it. And if they don't, they'll remain in the minority, stomping their feet and yelling that the world isn't fair.