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There’s nothing wrong with “identity politics”

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In the wake of the primary election for Montana’s representative to the U.S. House, some political pundits are decrying winner Kathleen Williams’ use of “identity politics.”

Merriam-Webster defines identity politics as “a tendency for people of a particular religion, race, social background, etc., to form exclusive political alliances, moving away from traditional broad-based party politics.”

In Williams’ case, it was her reaching out to women for their vote that generated critiques like “her ugly gender identity campaign.” Guess what, guys — and it was all guys writing this stuff — half the Homo sapiens in the world are women. It’s hardly an exclusive group — certainly more understandable than the blind allegiance of Trump supporters.

Blame it on centuries of second-class citizenry and a pussy-grabbing Donald Trump but women are fired up. They’ll support progressive candidates and if they are women, all the better.

Would you accuse African Americans of embracing identity politics because they voted for Barack Obama? On a lesser scale, let’s say you’re fond of marijuana. If the candidates on the ballot share similar but not exactly the same values as yours, but one of them supports legalizing the demon weed for recreational use, then you’re likely to vote for that candidate.

And supporting a woman, if you’re a woman, certainly makes as much sense as the pot lover voting for the pro-marijuana candidate.

Political doyens with more clout than me — Thomas Frank, for example — are weighing in against so-called identity politics. I agree with some of their message: a broad-based economic policy that benefits the white, working class needs to be advanced. However, I want nothing to do with a party that ignores the oppressed, disenfranchised and vulnerable among us just to win over a few Trump voters.

I am not a woman — or African American or gay or disabled — so it is impossible for me to fathom the depth of their discontent.

I supported Bernie Sanders and more recently, John Heenan. They most closely aligned with my values, but to to disparage other candidates doing outreach to their specific constituencies is absurd.

Which leads to this: for God’s sake, get behind the Williams for Congress campaign. Here’s hoping she is more aggressive on single-payer health care, campaign finance reform and environmental issues, but you know incumbent Greg Gianforte will do everything he can to rollback any progress made for anyone outside of wealthy white male Americans.

 

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About the author

Pete Talbot

'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising firm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.

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