Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Rightwing Identity Politics

Came across this today:

Now, the women in this clip are all conservative pundits and bloggers who regularly go to great lengths to rail against the "identity politics" of the left. And yet here they are, without any sense of the irony of it all, explicitly playing the same game. I guess they see the value of shared identity markers after all! Notice there are no men in the video. How discriminatory!

Imagine this, though: What would someone like Michelle Malkin say if a bunch of black pundits and bloggers crafted a video montage that used all the same tropes and identity markers wrapped around the phrase "I am Barack Obama"? I don't think we have to ponder this question too hard. We know exactly what these folks would say. In their characteristically crude way, they'd say something like this: "Look at those race hustling poverty pimps playing the race card!"

But let's take this whole "I am Sarah Palin" video at face value. Does this now mean that, for those women who metaphorically claim to be Sarah Palin, even though they really aren't Sarah Palin, they can go around wearing their McCain/Palin campaign buttons and claim in all seriousness: "I am the one I have been waiting for!" Talk about pompous narcissism!

The Cult of Sarah Palin comes to the GOP. Inspiration and Hope have cracked and penetrated the dour frumpiness of conservative killjoys and erstwhile Obamaphiliaphobes who went around (and still go around) pooh-poohing us Obamaphiles for actually liking our candidate and letting ourselves feel inspired and good about things. I think that's a great thing! Now we liberals can go around making fun of their weepy and emotional enthusiasm, too!


Schroeder said...

A must read:


Huck said...

schroeder - Thanks for the reference. I just read it. I understand the argument and agree that it makes sense. But, as I wrote in a comment over at WCBF, to ignore Palin with a "so what?" and a shrug has its own costs. Focusing on the right things about Palin is a campaign against McCain on the issues. The key is making sure that Palin is aggressively covered and given attention for the appropriate reasons. I think ignoring Palin is dangerous because it can play into the conservative narrative of a liberal elitist dismissiveness of the every woman.

D-BB said...

Hey Huck, long time, no see. Palin is old news. Obama has been kickin' her butt the last few days.

Besides, can you imagine having a girl as VP whose slutty unmarried daughter is having a kid right her mommy has a deformed kid? What a joke.

Eric said...

Huck, a completely fair analysis and one I agree with. Palin hasn't done anything at this point to deserve the level of support she is getting. I am prepared to be enthusiastic about her, I enjoyed her speech, but I have my reservations based on her (very short) record as Governer. I want to hear what she supports and what she doesn't support, and until I hear this I am suspending judgement.

As far as identity politics go, I think you are dead on. In fact, I have a problem with the entire way she is being marketed. It is not a popular opinion in either political camp, but I don't buy the "I'm just a traditional hockey (soccer) mom, just like you" schtick and here's why: My wife sacraficed a lot to stay home and dedicate herself to our ONE child, and that makes her a better mother IMHO than those who didn't, including Sarah Palin. So I don't want to hear about how her values are the same as mine and my families, they aren't. And what's more, I don't care. George Bush has what I consider to be very traditional conservative values, and as many Republicans have learned the hard way, those don't necessarily translate to conservative policies. So even if Palin's image is authentic, I just don't give a shit. Tell me what she wants to do, and I'll make decisons based on that.

On the other hand, I really don't want Obama to be in the White House. To that end I am glad to see conservatives rallying around Palin because it means Obama is more likely to lose. I am hopeful that Palin can live up to the hype and actually be a harbingter of new conservative thought and popularity over the long term, but she's got a lot to prove to me before I jump on the bandwagon.

Huck said...

Eric - All very good points. And a sign of consistency. It's one of reasons why I respect your opinions so much. Of course, we disagree on what an Obama in the White House means; but how can I not admire anyone who is intellectually honest enough to see through the "marketing" B.S. (and the identity politics games) that both sides throw out there?

One comment on something that you mentioned which reflects something you and I share, but which we both don't share with Palin (or the Obamas, for that matter); and that is rearing children and parenting. When my wife first heard that Palin had a 4-month-old special needs baby, but was accepting the VP nod, her first comment was: who's raising the baby? My wife and I both decided before having children that one of us would stay home and be an involved and ever-present parent to our babies. We also recognized the special importance of mothers to kids in the early stages: breastfeeding, certain kinds of nurturing, etc. And though conservatives might try to coopt my family's choices as "conservative" choices, my wife and I don't see it that way at all. We generally see this choice not in ideological ways, but in responsible parenting ways. And responsible parenting knows no ideological prescriptions, as far as I am concerned. This is not to say that I think any less of others who make different choices, it's just that our choices aren't aligned. And if one has to bring up my choice in ideological terms, I would argue that our decision fits right in with our liberal values. I refuse to let conservatives tell me what constitutes being "liberal" when it comes to raising my children.

But, like you, in the end, it is what candidates stand for and the policies that they advocate for that drives my choice of candidates.

Huck said...

d-bb - Back to old form! I missed you, amigo! What would the NOLA blogosphere be like without your performance art drive-by blogging? Boring, that's what! Good to see you back behind the wheel of your drive-by vehicle.

Anonymous said...

what a joke. this feels like a saturday night live skit to me. we just talked about this in my class yesterday. social movement theorists call it "activating identity". i might have to show this to my students next week.