by John Hawkins | August 24, 2010 1:34 am
One of the great ironies of American politics is that the least bigoted group of people in the country, conservatives, are continually accused of being hatemongers by the most prejudiced and race-obsessed people in our nation. No matter how often conservatives advocate race-neutral policies, condemn racism, or prove we’re not racists, we’re still smeared for the flimsiest reasons imaginable — usually by people practicing identity politics. So, not only does identity politics cut against the conservative belief that people should be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin, we’re very familiar with the ugly side of race-based politics in this country.
All that being said, even though it goes against our natural inclinations, there are some extremely important reasons why conservatives should take a fresh look at identity politics.
#1) What we’re doing now isn’t working and isn’t ever going to work: Conservatives talk a lot about minority outreach, but in practice, we don’t do it very well. No wonder. A lot of minorities simply won’t listen to a message from a white conservative and if the message does seem to be getting through, some liberal will shut the conversation down by screaming “racism.” This works for the Left again and again. There are minority communities that have been voting Democrat for decades, have nothing to show for it, and yet, they still won’t consider voting for a Republican candidate because they’ve been falsely convinced we hate them. Worse yet, there’s absolutely no indication that identity politics is doing anything but becoming more accepted and more entrenched in American politics.
So, if what conservatives are doing now doesn’t work and identity politics do work and aren’t going away, then perhaps we should take a harder look at that style of politics.
#2) Doing nothing isn’t an option: It’s no secret that the demographics in this country are changing. By 2042, white Americans will be a minority in this country. What that means is that if minority voting patterns stay the same as they are today, diehard socialists will soon have a permanent lock on power in this country. Look at the damage that has been done to this nation’s future just since Obama has gotten into office. Now imagine that as the permanent state of affairs. That’s what we’re headed towards unless there’s a change.
#3) Embracing identity politics is the least bad option available: If what we’re doing isn’t working, it’s best to look at our options. There seem to be three available at the moment:
A) We can shrug our shoulders, decide it’s too hard to do anything, and allow the Left to permanently take over America.
B) We can begin to embrace identity politics.
C) We can take the path that establishment Republicans seem to be most enamored with: Embracing left-wing positions in an attempt to appeal to minority groups. We can support amnesty to try to appeal to Hispanics, Affirmative Action and reparations to appeal to black Americans, gay marriage to draw gay support, wink at creeping Sharia to appeal to Muslims, etc., etc., etc.
Of course, pursuing option C would mean moving the conservative movement and the Republican Party to the Left — and there’s precious little evidence that it even works. For example, John McCain was the biggest advocate of amnesty in the Republican Party and yet, he still only pulled 31% of the Hispanic vote.
Whatever you may think of identity politics, it does appear to be the only option that could conceivably work.
#4) We’re already dabbling in identity politics: For all the conservative talk about avoiding identity politics, if we’re honest, we have to admit that we’re dabbling in it already. Would Sarah Palin be such a sensation if she were a man? Would conservatives have been such big fans of Condi Rice for so long if she wasn’t black? Would Marco Rubio have generated as much excitement among the conservative grassroots if he wasn’t Hispanic? When the Tea Parties are attacked as racist, don’t we take a little extra pride in pointing out all the minorities who’ve attended events? Aren’t we particularly thrilled when a Muslim speaks out eloquently against the Ground Zero mosque?
Don’t we already have conservative groups that engage in identity politics? Sure we do. Look at GOProud, Project 21, Smart Girl Politics, and the Hispanic Leadership Fund among others. These groups exist already, but they’re under-funded and under-appreciated. With more money and support, these groups could expand very quickly. But, why does it matter?
#5) Conservatives are losing culturally with minority groups even more so than we are politically: When you look at minorities in America, if you set race aside, you’re left scratching your head as to why they’re not voting Republican in much larger numbers. There’s absolutely no POLITICAL REASON why the GOP shouldn’t be getting a third of black voters and at least half of Hispanics, Muslims, Asians, and Jews.
The reason why that doesn’t happen is because Democrats come at those groups from a cultural angle that Republicans don’t. Republicans get upset when Harry Reid says, “I don’t know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican, OK?” or Jesse Jackson quips, “You can’t call yourself a black man and vote against the health care bill,” but guess what? Minorities in this country are bombarded with messages of that sort on a regular basic and it seems to work really, really well for the Democrats. Now, we can stamp our feet, get mad, and say “That’s not fair” all we like, but it’s not going to change the fact that conservatives have a cultural problem reaching out to minorities that can only be addressed by other people from those same minority groups.
#6) When you give up on identity politics, you give up your chance to set the agenda: Why are Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and the NAACP considered “black leaders” instead of “leaders of black liberals?” Why is La Raza treated like it’s representative of Hispanics instead of liberal Hispanics? Why is NOW considered to be a group that represents women instead of liberal women?
Along similar lines, why is a policy that’s as harmful to black Americans as Affirmative Action considered to be a “pro-black policy?” Why is supporting illegal immigration, which hurts Hispanic Americans economically more than the average American, considered to be a pro-Hispanic policy instead of an anti-Hispanic policy?
Here’s something else to ponder: How is it that conservatives can have their careers destroyed by “racist” remarks that would barely merit an apology if a liberal said the same thing? How is it that both liberals and conservatives can have the exact same position on the Ground Zero mosque and gay marriage and while the conservative is considered a “bigot,” the liberal is given a pass?
The answer to all these questions is the same: You can’t win if you don’t play the game. Because conservatives eschew identity politics, they allow liberal groups to claim the “leadership” mantle of every minority group in America by default. Perhaps in theory, that shouldn’t make any difference. In practice, it allows these liberal groups to define what’s racist and what’s not. It also allows them to determine what issues supposedly matter to each group — and often, even conservatives accept their supposed “leadership.” Long story short, either we get more involved in identity politics or groups like La Raza, CAIR, and the NAACP are going to deliver enough votes to the Democrats to allow them to permanently drag this country to the left.
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