This phrase “Identity Politics” has been bandied about a lot since the 2016 presidential election. Mostly it has been used to bash women and feminists who voted for Hillary Clinton by the conservative right and even some on the progressive left.
Identity politics is not new and the truth is that all politics are identity politics. Name me any politician and I will tell you their identity and the subsequent group of voters they may attract. It doesn’t matter if they are right, left, centrist, or from outer space, all candidates practice Identity Politics.
Take the candidates from this last election and the groups that identified with them:
Senator Marco Rubio: young, conservative Cubans
Senator Ted Cruz: conservative Evangelical Christians
Senator Bernie Sanders: progressive young people
Donald Trump: older white males and blue collar workers and anti-establishment types
In 2008 and 2012, minorities and women and blacks voted for the change Barack Obama brought. So why is it when a woman runs they accuse her female supporters of voting with their vaginas? Yes, women are a voting bloc. So are blacks, Latinos, LGBT folks, young people, Muslims, whites, blue collar workers, white collar workers, the lower class, the upper class, Christians, Jews, Atheists, pro-lifers, pro-choicers, intellectuals, and as Trump has called them “the poorly educated.”
In other words, Americans have endless identities which exist even within one person. It is up to the candidates to amass a winning coalition of voters by promising to deliver progress on the issues most electors identity with. This is how politics has worked from the beginning of time.
To me, it made sense for Hillary Clinton to appeal to women and promote feminist issues. She was the first woman to win the nomination of a major party and we females are 51 percent of the populace. We have come a long way but we are not there yet. There is much to be done to achieve equal pay, ending sexual harassment in the workplace, cutting down rape in the military and on college campuses, and promoting family leave and women health care issues.
I have no clue why Donald Trump won the majority of the women vote. It could have been some of them had bought the fake news about Hillary’s emails and Trump’s slanderous moniker of “Crooked Hillary”. They may have fell for his message of change (that always beats status quo) even though the change he is planning is in my eyes disastrous for our country. It may have been him falsely saying she would cause World War III. How ironic is that now with his latest military bombing adventures and loose talk of a “major, major conflict with North Korea”? It is also ironic he used the term “crooked” when he and his campaign team are being investigated for ties to the Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Most women I know are opposed to nuclear war and any kind of ground war for our troops. The only thing worse than voting for your own best interests is voting against your own best interests, unknowingly or not.
I was heartened by the Womens’ March the day after President Trump’s Inauguration and the huge crowds it attracted worldwide with peaceful protests. It gave me hope that we are still a force to be reckoned with. Women are leading the Resistance movement.
So yes, I did vote with my vagina. I also voted as a pro-environmentalist (respecting wildlife and National Parks and believing in climate change), pro-green energy jobs, pro-arts (as I am a musician), pro-universal health care, pro-social security, pro-Medicare, pro-peace (and ending nuclear proliferation), pro-immigration reform, pro-religious freedom, pro-civil rights, pro-criminal justice reform, pro-fair trade, pro-affordable college and lowering student loan debts, pro-sensible gun safety, pro-education, pro-Wall Street reforms, pro-the Consumer Protection Agency, pro-repealing Citizens United, pro-campaign finance reform, pro-civility in politics, pro-LGBT rights (as I am a lesbian), and pro-animal rights (especially wolves). These are my identity politics. And I am embracing them.
I chose the candidate that most closely matched my interests. She didn’t win, but I haven’t given up hope. We are still a democracy and the majority did not vote for our current president, at least in the popular vote.
So if you want to accuse me of “Identity Politics” go right ahead but remember you do it too. We all do. This is what democracy looks like.