Sunday, June 15, 2008

Instant Identities! Just Add Water!

Kevin and Ezra are making fun of the post where Jim Geraghty tries to attack Barack Obama for not wanting to live the life of a suburban commuter who works a 9-to-5 job. Geraghty tells us that "there's a fine line between rejecting that life and looking down at that life. Because some people are just fine with jobs that require them to take the New Rochelle train... Never mind the small towners who "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment." Obama didn't want to be a suburban commuter." It's a half-assed attempt to gin up something like a new anti-suburban-commuter Bittergate. Or something.

Right-wingers have coveted the power of left-wing identity politics for some time. They don't, however, have a good idea of why gender and racial solidarity are politically powerful. When some group has a common interest, you can get them to band together behind it. Defeating racism and sexism definitely count. But what are suburban commuters up against? Lousy train service? Unless Republicans are going to go after Ryan Avent and David Alpert with box cutters and somehow hijack the mass transit movement, they're just not going to succeed in stirring up an anti-Obama suburban commuter voting bloc.

Why don't Republicans get this? In part, it's because a lot of them think racism and sexism are over. So they think that Democratic voting blocs are still hanging together in the absence of any common interest. And if identity politics is that easy, turning Italian-Americans, or suburban commuters, or anyone else into a cohesive anti-Democratic group will be simple. But actually, there are good reasons why voting blocs hang together.

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