Friday, March 02, 2018

Identity Politics-- Poison


Democratic women-- but not good ones

A recent friend of mine, M.M., wrote this. I'm glad-- and relieved-- that I'm not the only one who thinks this way. The thermometer towards the bottom has both women and men, so their gender isn't what they have in common. What they have in common is that they are strong progressive candidates who will likely make excellent members of Congress. Please consider supporting them after you read this guest post.

Last night I was invited to a recruitment gathering for something called "The Next Collective." It’s basically a branch off of the LA Women’s Collective, which is an action committee that supports female candidates who fight for policy issues considered to be important for women: (gun policy, equal pay, economic equality, paid family leave etc), and according to their website, " drive more collective female power in politics to influence elections and legislative progress on issues women care about." On first glance this sounded great. More women in office to advance women’s issues, influencing elections, hear hear! There were various tiers of membership, and the lowest tier of $42/month would help fund their CrowdPAC and get me access to Town Hall events, parties with a cause, and intimate fundraising events for Congressional candidates endorsed by the L.A. Women’s Collective.

I decided to cross reference their supported candidates with the DWT blog as well as Progressive Punch. Personally, I am impassioned for causes that are aligned with the Progressive platform-- climate reform, income/wealth equality, immigration policy that is equitable, Medicare for all, Wall Street reform, big money out of politics, and healthcare reform, to name a few.

I spent a week at Standing Rock with my boyfriend last year, along with thousands of others in solidarity to fight DAPL. It was "the protest that almost succeeded." I believe it almost did succeed because of the thousands of people and some courageous leaders like Barbara Boxer and Bernie Sanders who stood firmly against the threat to the environment, human and tribal rights that the pipeline would bring. I believe that this protest "failed," partially because everyone was so exhausted, and we simply did not fight to the end for a true victory of the pipeline being stopped; rather than just paused. The fight was hard and long, but it changed the narrative of resistance movements, and made the world pay attention to something they had never witnessed before.

You can imagine, then, how my heart sank when I saw Heidi Heitkamp on the list of candidates supported on the L.A. Women’s Collective website. Heidi is the North Dakota senator who fully supports the construction of Keystone XL and asked Trump for help in canning the protesters. She voted Yes on passing the Keystone XL Pipeline Act. I scrolled down to then see Kirsten Gillibrand who has had a more-than-muddy past in terms of her conservative voting record. Even a political dumb dumb like me knew about the flip-flop nature of Gillibrand.

So what happened to me the other night was an "Awakening," of sorts.

If having more women in elective office were more important to me than specific issues, then I’d by all means get behind the L.A. Women’s Collective. If identity politics played a more important role in what I find critical to this country, I’d certainly find and support action committees that vet candidates across the board simply based on their gender, sexual orientation, race, or whatever political tribalism I adhere to. But they don’t. I would rather vote for a male Democratic candidate who gets an A grade with Progressive Punch, rather than a female Democratic candidate who gets a D grade, because I am first, an American. I am an American who’s mother lived in the Japanese Internment Camps of World War II. I am an American who helped start an environmental and conservation non-profit for 10 years, and I understand the disastrous environmental impact of DAPL. I am an American woman who has been grateful for the services of Planned Parenthood. One would think that voting this way is a no-brainer. But I’ve realized that so many people have gotten so swept up in the hype of these identity movements, that the movements themselves have superceded the efficacy of our individual purpose as voters, and is turning into a somewhat divisive force that fractures progressive alliances, and eventually prevents the change we so desperately need to happen.

After leaving the event, I talked to the two women I had brought with me. Both of them felt similarly to me, with one saying that she felt that "phone banking in key borderline areas during an election, was more effective than giving $500 to who knows what, just because they’re a female Dem." My other friend said she was "an activist more interested in campaign finance reform and changing systems rather than working within them."

In 2016 Bernie Sanders said to a group of Boston supporters, "It is not good enough for somebody to say, 'I'm a woman, vote for me.' No. That is not good enough. What we need is a woman who has the guts to stand up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies, to the fossil fuel industries."

Goal ThermometerFrom now on I will encourage anyone I know considering donating their time or money towards these collectives, action committees, or Crowdpacs, to do their homework. I am so grateful for the DWT blog and sites like Progressive Punch. They have become my political concordance in cross-referencing candidates I shamefully know very little or nothing about. I can count a handful of times that I didn’t recognize a name on my voting ballot and pulled an 'eenie meenie miney moe' between the two Democrat candidates, just because they were better than voting for the Republican. Now, in this critical time in political history, it’s incumbent upon me to educate myself and choose candidates based on the issues, and I am grateful to have a voice like Howie Klein’s in the midst of the cacophony to empower me to become a more responsible voter.



At 7:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said... nancy Pelosi is, reportedly, a woman. 'nuf said.

At 8:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


As is often said, no pictures, no proof.

At 11:00 PM, Blogger opit said...

I'll admit it. I'm a stupid old white guy who does not understand why gender is effectively such a force when determining access to the levers of power. Even so, I do subscribe to the philosophy which says there is no effective choice available to the voting public. Deciding on candidates who have been chosen without regard to popular opinion is not a choice which reflects popular opinion.

At 11:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Women sank the ERA. Women are the most vicious critics of other women in ways men can't begin to get away with. I'd love to hear from a woman as to why this is.

That said, there is a reason that the L.A. Women’s Collective endorsed these candidates. I looked at their website, and frankly they aren't very forthcoming about why these women are being supported for office. "Who We Are" lists several issues which look to me to appeal to working moms. But there is no evidence presented which shows how any of these endorsed incumbents have done anything to support these issues listed on the linked page.

"Who We Are" does claim to be "Inspired by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and her Off the Sidelines campaign". My impression of that page is that it is an outreach by corporatist politicos to try to collect female support for their agenda. Lots of "career advancement" and "improved economic empowerment" and "developing more feminine entrepreneurs", at least up top. The issues I'm more likely to support end up lower on the page.

Both web sites are high-quality presentations. Such financial expenses are expected to be recouped.


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