Thursday, August 08, 2013

The Failure Of Identity Politics-- And It's Not Just Wall Street Shill Cory Booker


Yesterday we noted the endorsement of Rush Holt, who is white, by African-American civil rights leader Edith Savage-Jennings. In her OpEd at the Times of Trenton, she wrote that "The decision to answer the call to service was never easy. Often, it was terrifying. I faced the very real possibility of imprisonment or violence for standing up for civil rights. But I could not abide the idea that some human beings were less equal than others. As much as I valued my safety, I valued my principles even more highly. When I look at Rush Holt, I see someone who feels equally called to service and equally committed to his principles. I am not being paid by his campaign. And I have never been paid by any campaign. I just think he is the best person to elect to the Senate." Holt is a Blue America backed candidate and I was glad that someone of Edith Savage-Jennings' stature and integrity didn't back the "Black candidate" or the woman candidate" but went for the BEST candidate.
I am a black woman who helped lead the civil rights movement. At the request of NAACP National, I arranged for Mrs. Rosa Parks to come to the Mount Zion AME Church in Trenton in January 1956 to give her first national speech after her Montgomery bus sit-in. And in 1957, I organized the first visit of Martin Luther King Jr. to Trenton at the Shiloh Baptist Church and became his fund-raiser and lifelong friend. In addition to my other work and interests, such as the National Conference of Christians and Jews, I have served in major national, state and local civil rights leadership positions.

Some people believe that my history should compel me to vote for a black candidate as New Jersey’s next U.S. senator. But if I learned anything from the civil rights movement, it is that we must look past the color of a person’s skin.

We must examine the content of his or her character. We must ask ourselves: Who has heard and answered the call to service?

...Mr. Holt has been honest, fair, hard-working and committed. He has earned the respect of all his constituents regardless of race or ethnicity. No matter who asks for his help, Rush Holt is there.

When the National Security Agency was caught spying on innocent Americans-- calling to mind the surveillance abuses of the civil rights movement, when the FBI spied on Martin Luther King Jr. and others-- Rush Holt was there. He has introduced a bill to end warrantless spying on Americans. He is respected nationally as a true progressive.

When my city of Trenton was forced to lay off much of its police force during a budget crisis, Rush Holt was there. He fought for funding from the Justice Department to help the city rehire police officers. He also helped the police department and emergency medical services buy new equipment, and he helped renovate the Trenton train station. Rep. Holt can often be seen in all the neighborhoods of Trenton, my home town, as well his entire district, hearing from the people he represents.

At every opportunity, Rep Holt has answered the call to service. In him I see a kindred, compassionate spirit-- someone I can count on to carry on the work that I have done for so many years.

Without a lot of posturing and flamboyance, Rush Holt has become an effective leader for progressive causes and, therefore, in my opinion, he is the best person to represent us in the United States Senate.
Cory Booker isn't the first-- nor will he be the last-- African-American candidate to sell his soul to Wall Street. He's just another version of corporate whores like Harold Ford, Al Wynn and Artur Davis. The most conservative Hispanic Democrat in Texas is Henry Cuellar. Where many Democrats who vote with the Republicans as much as Cuellar does, whine that their districts demand it because they're purple of even red, Cuellar's Texas district is strictly out of bounds for a Republican. The PVI is D+7 and Romney couldn't even win 40% there last year. No, Blue Dog Henry Cuellar doesn't vote like a Republican because he's a coward; he votes like a Republican because he is like a Republican.

In their seminal 2006 book on grassroots politics Crashing the Gate Markos Moulitsas and Jerome Armstrong eviscerate many notions of old school politics, narrow identity politics being one component. Writing last year about how EMILY's List has devolved into an organization that primarily helps wealthy conservative women-- who are pro-Choice-- target progressive men, I noted that when the book first came out I didn't fully appreciated that point-- "about how the single-minded, single interest groups that make up the Democratic coalition are a force for dysfunction. EMILY's List, far more than any other group, is the poster child for that destructive attitude that has been, in recent years, so harmful to the progressive movement." They are the organization you can LEAST count on to "examine the content of his or her character" when looking at candidates.

Sean Patrick Maloney-- nice family, crap voting record

Lately, the Democratic Party has elected more proud, up front gay men and women than ever before. That's wonderful, but there's a but. Unlike gay congressional pioneer Barney Frank, most of these gay candidates are not progressives. Oh, they're very progressive on LGBT issues and on Choice, but when it comes to economic justice, many of them are cut from the same cloth as reactionary Republicans from the Greed and Selfishness wing of the GOP. According to ProgressivePunch's crucial vote score, Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) is the least progressive freshman Democrat in Congress. His wretched 32.69 score is more conservative than several Republicans and much worse than many homophobic right-wing Blue Dogs. But he's proudly gay and has a lovely husband and lovely children that he uses to get progressives to donate to his campaigns. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), who tells everyone she meets that she's "bisexual," is basically just as bad. Her abysmal score is 40.62, just above conservative North Carolina Republican Walter Jones' 40.38-- though not quite as "good" as Maloney's closest congressional neighbor, conservative Republican Chris Gibson (41.35), who is facing a wealthy Maloney clone next year, Sean Eldridge. Let me point out at this moment that the BEST Progressive Punch score for any freshman this year belongs to Madison, Wisconsin progressive Mark Pocan, an upfront gay man who sees the fight for LGBT equality as a part of the universal struggle for equality and the dignity of all men and women, something that Maloney and Sinema seem-- at least in their voting records-- unable or unwilling to grasp.

EMILY's List endorses worthless conservative women. Victory Fund has even endorsed reformed homophobes who are conservative Republicans-- and expect them to back Richard Tisei against LGBT equality backer John Tierney again, like they did last year. Both organizations need to look more closely at how Edith Savage-Jennings came to her conclusions-- selflessness dedication rather than jonesing for a weekly paycheck and empire-building being one important factor. It's always a good time to watch this short video by Alan Grayson again:

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At 7:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this, Howie. The big business establishment is about to acquiesce and stop fighting gay liberation. The LGBT movement deserves nothing but congratulations for their victory. But it's not enough. While that movement is winning big, the rest of the left is suffering seriously. Booker vs. Holt is emblematic of this suffering.

At 9:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wanted to throw spitballs after the first paragraph, but after reading the line "worthless conservative women," I wanted to thank you for openly revealing the lie behind identity politics: A DANGEROUS MECHANISM THAT LEGITIMIZES AND JUSTIFIES OPPRESSION AGAINST CERTAIN GROUPS, BASED ON AN IDEOLOGY OF (PERCEIVED)CULTURAL VICTIMIZATION. And before you decide to delete this comment, why don't you try that same sentence with a different demographic and see how it feels: how about "worthless black women," worthless liberal women, worthless Moslem women, etc. Believing the lie that "somebody else out there knows better" is the first step toward authoritarianism, and the inevitable tyranny that follows.


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