Conservatism And Identity Politics
The politics of grievance–it’s a liberal sport. The triumph of identity over character–it’s the liberal playbook. The power of P.C.–it’s how liberals limit speech, confine arguments and guilt people into silence.
I hate it all.
That President Obama talked about civility and then had Al Sharpton, notorious race hustler and false accuser and defamer into the people’s house, the White House, to watch the Super Bowl with his family tells me everything anyone could want to know about whether the President is serious about a “new tone”. As usual, the President speaks smooth words, but his forked tongue is belied by his actions.
Black. The Reverand Al Sharpton is black. And he has a big mouth. And he, along with many liberals are about one thing: power. His race is simply a vehicle to access power. And on the left, it works.
Whether it’s race or gender or sexual orientation or economic class or age, liberals will use differences to divide and conquer.
The last two years have been a testament to class warfare, racial division, instilling fear in the aged and just generally sowing strife.
So, I am wary when I see what could be construed as identity politics on the right.
The Republican party picked some candidates for all the wrong reasons. Dee Dee Scozzafava comes to mind. Her only redeeming quality seemed to be that she was a woman and the NY-GOP was reacting to the shunning of earlier, more conservative female candidates in other parts of the state. And then there were women like Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina, and Linda McMahon who had the benefit of being woman and the color green. They were bad candidates picked for bad reasons. Then again, it wasn’t just women. Charlie Crist was the go-to guy for a while.
Being Republican means supporting conservative values. It means valuing ideas over identity. It means that all men and women are equal…and should have equal opportunity.
The left paints the right as racist, sexist, bigoted, stupid, homophobes. The right paints the left as un-American because the left sees through the lens of identity over comity.
To fight the false perceptions foisted on Americans by the left, new groups have sprung up on the right. I’ve mentioned a couple of my favorites before: Smart Girl Politics, Raging Elephants (Leading America’s Second Emancipation), and The Conservative Alliance (La Alianza Conservadora). Here’s part of the mission statement of Temo Munez’s group:
Our Conservative Alliance is a national coalition of state and local organizations throughout the country whose goal is to reinvigorate the traditional conservative values and ideals that made our country a “shining city on a hill” in the words of Ronald Reagan, and to communicate those same values and ideals simply and effectively to all Americans across ethnic and demographic boundaries.
When Temo and his band of volunteers helped clean up devastated neighborhoods post-hurricanes in Houston, people would ask who he represented and he’d say,”I’m a Republican! Thank them!”
These groups triumph conservative values and seek to influence the community by framing conservative values in a way that is understood and makes sense. There are obvious differences among Americans based on our diverse backgrounds. What unites Americans is the opportunities inherent in a system where the government’s role is limited and doesn’t include choosing winners and losers.
And still, even with these wonderful groups (full disclosure: I’m a member of Smart Girl and have helped sponsor their conference this year) it is wise to remain vigilant. Good intentions in politics so often leads to hell. And a conservative world where advocacy groups morph into grievance groups bullying the conservative movement is one definition of hell.
Debt-reduction? Life? Initiatives to reform education? Wonderful. All these ideas on the right should be beneficial to all Americans because they promote freedom, reinforce autonomy, and encourage entrepreneurial risk-taking.
And here I am, saying this, as a woman.
If anyone tells you that sexism or racism no longer exists, they’re delusional. The treatment of Sarah Palin and Clarence Thomas serve as Exhibits A and B.
In fact, I’ve spoken to many fine conservative women who would never run for office because they’ve seen the treatment conservative women receive and don’t want their families subjected to the abuse. The press has created a hostile working environment for conservative women. They’re like the lecherous old boss harassing the woman until she quits.
The solution to this unfair treatment isn’t to gripe about it. It’s to win.
The progressive left whines, complains, and shrieks in their desire to highlight their sad plight while they could actually be doing something constructive for all Americans.
The conservative movement needs to be different and better. Conservative values are about believing in the power of better ideas, better opportunities, and creating fertile soil so the greatness of any and every American can grow.
Conservatism is a message of hope.
Identity politics results in hopelessness and helplessness. People wrongly believe that by accident of birth–their gender, color, station–they’re deprived. It’s a progressive lie that serves the politicians and hangers on like Al Sharpton and destroys the very communities they claim to represent.
This rot has no place in the conservative movement.
So, I love that conservative advocacy groups have sprung up to reach out into under served communities. People shouldn’t have to buy liberalism just because they don’t see any other product available.
And still, I remain cautious. America is great because we’re that “shining city on the hill”. We are “E Pluribus Unum”. We are “out of many, one.”