By Robert Weissberg, Intellectual Takeout
Identity politics is now the term du jour and its meaning is clear enough on a superficial level—choosing people according to their physical characteristics and sexual preferences. The left wants more people of color, women, and gays in influential positions, while the right insists that these traits are secondary to competence in a given job.
This faulty understanding of the term illustrates once again how the left hoodwinks the clueless right by manipulating language. Identity politics is not about filling positions of power with those who “look like America.” Rather, it is about populating government with not especially bright ideologues. All the yammering about the “under-represented” is artful deception. No Goodthink lefty would celebrate the alleged closet queen J. Edgar Hoover as a victim of America’s rampant homophobia.
Identity politics has traditionally been part of the political landscape, though not by that name. During the New York politics of my youth, the Democratic Party always offered a “balanced ticket” that, thanks to that era’s electoral demography, typically included a Catholic, an Irishman, a Jew, a black, an Italian, and whatever other groups might boost Democratic turnout. Since all candidates were vetted by party leaders, minimal competence was assumed. A bad candidate—regardless of skin color or religion—might drag down the entire ticket and undermine all-important patronage. A similar though necessarily simpler “balancing” dictated presidential tickets, with a northern liberal like Adlai Stevenson balanced by a Southerner like John Sparkman in the 1952 election.