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.

Confirmed Cases: 30900

Reported Deaths: 1111
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds249840
DeSoto159416
Madison130034
Jones112449
Neshoba98871
Rankin93412
Harrison91211
Lauderdale90979
Forrest86942
Scott77115
Jackson62216
Copiah60215
Washington5849
Leake57819
Holmes55341
Lee54718
Wayne54513
Oktibbeha54126
Warren51518
Yazoo5096
Leflore48751
Grenada4835
Lowndes48313
Lincoln46034
Lamar4587
Pike43112
Monroe40130
Lafayette3914
Sunflower3727
Attala36023
Covington3565
Panola3506
Newton3399
Bolivar33414
Simpson3173
Adams31118
Pontotoc2866
Tate28310
Marion28111
Chickasaw27718
Claiborne27410
Noxubee2638
Jasper2626
Winston2616
Pearl River25432
Clay25010
Marshall2323
Smith21811
Clarke20724
Union2079
Coahoma2016
Walthall1995
Kemper17914
Lawrence1772
Yalobusha1707
Carroll16511
Humphreys1479
Tallahatchie1364
Itawamba1358
Montgomery1322
Calhoun1304
Tippah13011
Hancock12813
Webster12710
Jefferson Davis1114
Prentiss1083
Jefferson1073
Greene1058
Tunica1003
Wilkinson949
Amite912
George883
Tishomingo801
Quitman760
Choctaw744
Alcorn692
Perry664
Stone651
Franklin452
Sharkey370
Benton360
Issaquena91
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 44375

Reported Deaths: 984
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson5221152
Montgomery4127103
Mobile4080134
Tuscaloosa228842
Marshall171110
Madison14307
Lee138437
Shelby128423
Morgan11025
Walker93924
Elmore92514
Franklin89514
Dallas8809
Baldwin8649
Etowah73913
DeKalb7195
Butler63328
Chambers62927
Autauga60712
Tallapoosa59169
Russell5520
Unassigned50323
Houston4964
Limestone4950
Lauderdale4906
Lowndes47221
Cullman4524
Pike4295
Colbert3956
St. Clair3822
Coffee3772
Bullock36910
Covington3587
Calhoun3545
Escambia3506
Barbour3492
Hale31121
Talladega3097
Marengo30211
Wilcox2918
Dale2880
Sumter28512
Clarke2746
Jackson2732
Winston2583
Chilton2462
Blount2351
Monroe2352
Pickens2356
Marion22413
Conecuh2097
Randolph2069
Choctaw19512
Macon1949
Bibb1901
Greene1868
Perry1771
Henry1343
Crenshaw1253
Washington1097
Lawrence1080
Cherokee977
Geneva800
Lamar771
Fayette701
Clay652
Coosa581
Cleburne361
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 86°
Columbus
Scattered Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 82°
Oxford
Broken Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 82°
Starkville
Scattered Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 82°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather