Glenn Reynolds in USA TODAY:
In my experience, people argue identity when they don’t want to argue policy. And the reason they don’t want to argue policy, usually, is that they’re wrong. But in arguing that everyone who disagrees with them is a racist, or a sexist, or a tool of Big Money, or whatever, the Democrats run the risk of self-destruction. This is basically what happened to the the Labour Party in Britain: A reliance on easy tropes that please the base but alienate other voters.
As Daniel Hannan notes: “When leftists attack the Tories, they’re not just having a go at 300 MPs, or 100,000 party members: They’re scorning everyone who has contemplated supporting the party. … How do you think this sort of thing goes down, not only with anyone who has ever voted Conservative, but with moderate people who, though they haven’t voted Tory themselves, have friends and family who have? When you adopt a bullying tone, you find that 1) voters don’t like it; 2) you solidify the other side’s core support; and 3) some people hide their voting intentions.”
Likewise, to many prominent Democrats and supporters have spent the past six years calling everyone who doesn’t agree with Obama a racist. Now some of the same folks are gearing up to call everyone who doesn’t support Clinton (or, perhaps, Warren, the backup-Hillary) a sexist. For instance, one group of Hillary supporters makes the preposterous claim that saying she is “out of touch” or ‘insincere” reflects a sexist worldview. This technique worked pretty well so far for Obama’s presidency, but it now seems to be wearing thin, even within the Democratic Party.
The 2016 election is still more than a year a way. It’s not too late for the Democrats to start arguing policy. But if they want to stick with shouting about identity, well, the Republicans may be happy to let them.
Democrats have mastered the art of identity politics to shield themselves from having to respond substantively to legitimate criticism of their policies. The same old, same old cries of racism and sexism have worked so well for them they are now using it on each other. They risk becoming the sow that eats her piglets. Without the aid and comfort of a partisan media along with timorous lack of opposition from the Republicans they could not have made this sort of phony baloney work as long as it has.
What lies here is an opportunity for Republicans if they care to take advantage of it. I doubt they will because Republicans seem to never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity, even if handed to them on a silver platter. One way the Democrats could revive the identity politics theme and keep it working will be if some lame-brain Republican candidate manages to fall for one of the usual tricks by a news reporter and stick his foot in his mouth with some idiotic comment that can be easily twisted into something deeply offensive on the basis of race or sex. With every danger comes new opportunities, and the other way around too.
Steven Hayward has a striking example of the Left eating another one of its own: Civil War on the Left: Part 19. This one involves octogenarian Leftist Professor Jerry Hough of Duke University coming to his senses and writing a letter to the New York Times taking the editors to task for their treatment on the Baltimore riots. It’s a great letter that reads as if written by an articulate conservative. Prof. Hough makes several worthy points on the state of Democrat politics today. Predictably, it’s all hate speech to the Leftist establishment at Duke and they are gunning for him with tar and feathers, or perhaps something worse.