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Nancy Pelosi's mistake on identity politics

Identity politics is dehumanizing, no matter who your target is. Sadly, Democrats don't seem to realize this, includi...

Posted: May 4, 2018 9:29 AM
Updated: May 4, 2018 9:29 AM

Identity politics is dehumanizing, no matter who your target is. Sadly, Democrats don't seem to realize this, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, arguably the most powerful Democrat in office.

Pelosi told The Boston Globe that, when it comes to top leadership positions in government, "It's important that it not be five white guys at the table, no offense."

"I have no intention of walking away from that table," she said, according to the newspaper.

Pelosi's troubling words, dividing rather than uniting, follow the same playbook that lost Democrats the White House and kept them from gaining the congressional majority in 2016. They're the same type that perpetuates conflict in our political discourse rather than abiding by our national motto, "E pluribus unum" -- out of many, one. Pelosi's words echo Hillary Clinton's unabashed embrace of playing "the woman card."

Clinton went so far as to mail physical "Woman Cards" to voters. One recipient of this Woman Card was the household of a white male acquaintance of mine, from the swing state of Ohio, who said it left him uninspired. His state went red in 2016 despite having twice gone blue for Barack Obama.

Chlo- Valdary, a millennial, African-American writer formerly of The Wall Street Journal editorial page, sums up nicely the perils of Pelosi's type of identity-based virtue signaling: "PSA. The following are virtues: 'patience, courage, humility, resourcefulness, reason, justice, and creativity.' The following are not virtues: One's skin color, the reproductive organs one has, who one sleeps with, dietary choices, or the ability to scream in order to attempt to get one's way."

Sadly, some conservatives also play the identity card, and this is a problem for Republicans as the country continues to diversify. Forty-four percent of millennials are minorities, as are a majority of the babies born today. Part of our country's current political and cultural fracturing stems from a generational divide that hews to tribal identities rather than universal recognition of our shared humanity.

"Racially and ethnically," writes William Galston of The Brookings Institution, "the Republican base looks more like the country did two decades ago, while Democrats foreshadow what the country will be two decades from now. Neither party represents the United States as it is today."

In other words, neither party accurately reflects America's human family today, and we need to change our entrenched mindsets if we hope to rise above the gridlock.

Indeed, Republicans have struggled with minority voters, particularly since their Southern strategy and Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater's decision to oppose the Civil Rights Act in 1964. Black GOP presidential support fell to 6% that year, after 39% voted in 1956 for Republican Dwight Eisenhower (a civil rights champion) and 32% for Richard Nixon in 1960.

President Trump did slightly better with nonwhite voters than his predecessor, Mitt Romney. And improvement in the black and Latino labor force under the Trump administration, along with support from iconic black figures like Ben Carson and Kanye West, are likely contributing to President Trump's improving poll numbers among black men.

It is significant that the immensely popular Chance the Rapper stated that "Black people don't have to be Democrats," and that he felt emboldened to recently point out that "Chicago has had generations of Democratic officials with no investment or regard for black schools, (black neighborhoods) or black lives."

On the heels of this momentum, and work on criminal justice reform by Jared Kushner, POLITICO reports that the "White House is exploring plans to host multiple summits on race between prominent athletes and artists and President Donald Trump."

Whether this cultural and political awakening continues among conservatives -- the realization of how much we need to connect with people from every walk of life -- will determine our movement's trajectory and viability in generations to come.

And rather than demonizing white men, it's worth asking Pelosi how her comment about "five white guys at the table" squares with Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream that people would "not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

Democrats who engage in identity politics would do well to look themselves in the mirror, also, to see if they are abiding by Maya Angelou's wise words: "I note the obvious differences between each sort and type, but we are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike. We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 515504

Reported Deaths: 10296
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34999558
DeSoto33360432
Hinds32743643
Jackson24906392
Rankin22565405
Lee16455245
Madison14954283
Jones14158248
Forrest13834260
Lauderdale12311323
Lowndes11357193
Lamar10693140
Pearl River9748244
Lafayette8868143
Hancock7849132
Washington7559169
Oktibbeha7229138
Monroe7068179
Pontotoc7033110
Warren6885178
Panola6791135
Neshoba6744210
Marshall6707142
Bolivar6468151
Union643598
Pike5942157
Alcorn5921107
Lincoln5540136
George510680
Prentiss508285
Tippah495683
Itawamba4884107
Scott478999
Tate4777117
Adams4776125
Leflore4749144
Copiah458195
Yazoo458092
Simpson4566117
Wayne443472
Covington434895
Sunflower4319106
Marion4295112
Coahoma4244110
Leake414191
Newton396182
Tishomingo386894
Grenada3789109
Stone366166
Jasper341266
Attala340490
Chickasaw318367
Winston318392
Clay312978
Clarke301695
Calhoun286850
Holmes272889
Smith270552
Yalobusha244947
Tallahatchie232353
Greene225149
Walthall222166
Lawrence220242
Perry214556
Amite210357
Webster206548
Noxubee188843
Montgomery182157
Carroll175441
Jefferson Davis174343
Tunica163539
Benton153139
Kemper145441
Choctaw137027
Claiborne134839
Humphreys132239
Franklin126530
Quitman107828
Wilkinson106139
Jefferson97134
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 848137

Reported Deaths: 16185
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1164052005
Mobile743681384
Madison53497738
Shelby38435371
Baldwin38195589
Tuscaloosa36152644
Montgomery34562782
Lee25655264
Calhoun22630520
Morgan22530411
Etowah20069520
Marshall18846318
Houston17777426
St. Clair16958359
Limestone16195220
Cullman16157306
Elmore15940295
Lauderdale15069307
Talladega14260302
DeKalb13083271
Walker12168380
Blount10779193
Autauga10560157
Jackson10214196
Coffee9435192
Colbert9366210
Dale9044192
Tallapoosa7285202
Russell710065
Chilton7090170
Covington6969197
Escambia6967144
Franklin6364108
Chambers5801142
Marion5437132
Dallas5302210
Pike5129109
Clarke485786
Lawrence4850130
Winston4793110
Geneva4655136
Bibb435795
Barbour370680
Butler3444101
Marengo342993
Monroe338366
Randolph337867
Pickens334890
Fayette331785
Henry321166
Cherokee320364
Hale319189
Crenshaw261678
Washington256852
Cleburne255460
Lamar253555
Clay252969
Macon246367
Conecuh193562
Coosa186048
Wilcox178538
Lowndes178468
Bullock152845
Perry141840
Sumter139841
Greene130545
Choctaw94428
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Columbus
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