Friends, I hope my column on identity politics at Real Clear Politics this morning resonates with you.
I think we can agree that one of the reasons we need to Make America Great Again is because, to quote a cliche, we are stronger together. Unfortunately leftist ideology aims to tear us apart and turn us against each other. Here’s my column.
Identity Politics, and the Divisible Nation For Which It Stands
By Frank Miele
I was halfway through the preparation for this essay on identity politics when Procter & Gamble handed me my free promotional gift — an online ad for Gillette razors that showed men and boys being bad and that asked, “Is this the best a man can get?”
Well, no — it’s not. It should be obvious that bullying and street-fighting are not the “best a man can get,” whatever that means. It is bad behavior — plain and simple. To show pictures of boys fighting and suggesting that this represents anyone’s ideal for male behavior is not only flagrantly dishonest; it is stupid as well. To show an example of online bullying and suggest that this is the sole domain of boys and men is not only stupid; it is flagrantly dishonest — girls are at least as ruthless as boys when it comes to online bullying.
This ad illustrates, probably better than anything I can think of, both the allure and the danger of “identity politics.” It must have seemed like a great idea to the advertising geniuses at Procter & Gamble to capture the angst of the modern man in this era of “Me Too” and “Toxic Masculinity,” but instead of celebrating the positive aspects of maleness, they decided to shame men into changing their hormonal spots. (Wait a minute, isn’t “shaming” just another form of “bullying”?)
Sooner or later, it should become clear that “identity politics” is really just Tribalism 2.0, and has the same strengths and weaknesses as the old version. By encouraging blocs of people to band together, you magnify the power of the individual as a representative of a group, but by segregating people into discrete groups, you isolate them from those who are unlike them. That has never worked well — whether in Rwanda, where the Hutus tried to wipe out the Tutsis, or in India, where a nationwide partition was required between Hindus and Muslims in order to prevent them from killing each other.
We won’t see genocidal war between men and women, for obvious reasons, but turning the sexes against each other won’t work out well either, especially not if one of the genders is seen as superior and oppressed and the other is seen as inferior and oppressive. As a historic fact, most cultures of the world have been patriarchies and thus men have wielded power more readily than women, but that doesn’t mean women are necessarily going to do better at it when they wrest power away from men. Yet that is the implicit — and often explicit — assumption of political analysts when they study the increasing political power of women. David Gergen, for instance, in an article for CNN co-written with researcher James Piltch, said that “a large increase in female leaders could be a saving grace for the country’s hyperpolarized, venomous politics. They may just be better at leading than men.”
What? Really? On what basis?
Gergen and Piltch have this to say to back up their outrageous claim:
“When it comes to the respective leadership strengths of different genders, it’s hard to be sure what is absolutely, verifiably true. But research suggests women possess two leadership qualities that our country needs right now.”
“Research suggests…”? Really? That’s it?
Here’s what my research suggests: Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters, Hillary Clinton, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Mazie Hirono, Sheila Jackson Lee, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Rashida (“Impeach the m—–f—er”) Tlaib are not a “saving grace for the country’s hyperpolarized, venomous politics.” They are instead the poster girls for venomous politics.
Yet according to Gergen and Piltch, “women tend to bring something as leaders that is sorely lacking in Washington: Ethics and integrity.”
This can be challenged on two fronts. One, it is an implicit indictment of men across the board in Washington, D.C., yet the absence of real indictments would suggest that a vast majority of men serving in Congress, the administration or the bureaucracy are beyond reproach when it comes to ethics and integrity. Second, there is zero evidence that women are more ethical than men, unless wearing pussy hats is a de facto declaration of decency. Oh, yeah — Alice Eagly wrote a book that claims women are “seemingly” less likely to encourage unethical practices “when on corporate boards or other positions of leadership than men.” As the Gergen article concedes, “research confirming Eagly’s findings remains limited,” but hey, there is a lot of unscientific anecdotal evidence we can rely on to prove what we already believe to be true. Oh, wait — that’s called confirmation bias. Never mind.
What Gergen’s “think piece” really illustrates is not that women are better at leadership, but that men are still masters at sweet-talking women. In writing an article titled “Why Nancy Pelosi is good for America,” Gergen and Piltch are telling women what they think women want to hear, but smart women aren’t buying it. Human frailty is not gender specific; nor is leadership. Nor do all people of a particular gender, race or sexual orientation think or act alike — despite the goading of Gillette or Gergen. Nancy Pelosi is good for America in exactly the same degree as Donald Trump, and for exactly the same reason — they both fight for what they believe in.
You see, for conservatives such as myself, our identity is not tied up in our skin color or our gender, but rather in our beliefs. That’s why I could support Ben Carson for president in 2016 and want to see Nikki Haley run for president in 2024. Like most people who value ethics and integrity (and, yes, that includes both men and Republicans) I am pleased to find those qualities in anyone, and considering the range of temptations available in public life, I am not surprised to find them lacking in either men or women.
Ultimately the problem with identity politics is that it is divisive politics. On Martin Luther King Day, we should acknowledge that oppression by race, gender and religion does happen, and must be rooted out, but we should also have the courage, like King, to envision an America that judges people “by the content of their character,” not what group they belong to. If we are going to condemn white nationalism (and we most emphatically should) then we ought also condemn other forms of tribalism. When people celebrate being a woman, for instance, they are also celebrating being a NOT-man. We are celebrating our differences rather than that which binds us together — our American identity and, ultimately, our human identity.
Most of us grew up reciting the “Pledge of Allegiance,” and mouthed the words by rote “one nation, indivisible,” but yet today we support every assault on that union by pitting one group — one race, one religion, one gender — against another.
There is only one way to imagine a good end to all this division. What is the smallest indivisible unit? As Red Skelton described it in his remarkable version of the “Pledge,” it is “I, me, an individual, a committee of one.” When all those I’s put aside our differences and join together with others who are both like and unlike us, then we may rediscover the strength of a republic that was born with the remarkable words “We the People.”
Column also posted at Real Clear Politics here, and please leave a comment!
Frank Miele writes from Kalispell, Montana, at www.HeartlandDiaryUSA.com and is a columnist at Real Clear Politics. To see more of my columns about the Dishonest Media, the Deep Swamp, the failed presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and Trump’s war to restore American greatness, read my “Why We Needed Trump” trilogy. The books are available at Amazon in paperback or Kindle editions. Also please considering leaving a review in support of my conservative commentary on one or all of my book pages at Amazon! Thanks!
2 Replies to “Identity Politics: The opposite of Make America Great Again”
David gergen used to be a good analyst but he drank the koolaid. He hates President Trump so everything he says is tainted. By thinking women leaders would be better than male leaders is sexist and should be called out. When Nancy Pelosi first became Speaker during the Bush administration, she said she was going to “Drain the Swamp.” Years ago, I thought she was on the right track even though her words were insulting to her colleagues in the Bush Administration, but she loved saying it. She found that changing the swamp was not in her best interest and she actually enjoys the Washington Swamp and never wants to change anything now and resents Mr. Trump’s attempts and success at changing the swamp culture. It makes her, and all her colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, look bad, ineffectual, and in collusion with each other’s swamp habits. Which is true. And one thing the swamp does not want is to be exposed. When Mr. Trump used the same “Drain the Swamp” words in 2016, he meant it. Jimmy Carter tried to make the politicians accountable for their foolishness and overspending. He came up against a brick wall. He didn’t have a network of politicians behind him or a business other than a peanut plantation. So President Carter came up against a Jerry McGuire moment. Nobody followed President Carter in his quest to have an honest government. Republicans, along with Democrats, couldn’t get rid of him fast enough. When Obama said he was (1):going to bring ethics back to government, (2) go overthe budget “line by line,” (3) work on limiting the power of lobbyists, it was just talk. He likes to talk. When Mr. Trump sees a problem that needs fixing or a concern which needs confronting, he does not meet with a consensus group to tell him what the polls say. The consensus group he listens to is made up of the men and women who voted for him and depend upon him to use his best judgment. I would never entrust my vote to the unkind, unfair, unchallenged women you listed and I agree with your analysis that ‘ “Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters, Hillary Clinton, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Mazie Hirono, Sheila Jackson Lee, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Rashida (“Impeach the m—–f—er”) Tlaib are not a “saving grace for the country’s hyperpolarized, venomous politics.” They are instead the poster girls for venomous politics.’ ” What these women all have in common with Hillary Clinton is that they are all out for themselves. They see themselves as number One. Ego. It’s all about their respective egos. They all display a certain dishonorable nature. And the voter hears it and see it. Add the Somalian congresswoman, Omar, and she is a Somalian more than an American, and we have diversity where we should have unity. As Juan Williams famously said, and I paraphrase, “when I get on board a plane with a woman in full Muslim attire, it gives me pause.”. That little gem got him fired from NPR. But he had an instinct about something and he was being told he wasn’t allowed to share his instincts. My instinct about Omar, on the Foreign Intelligence Committee, feels awful. Dangerous and awful. Thanks, Nancy. (See the stories on the personal wealth of Pelosis, Reid, and Maxine by “serving” their people, working on a government salary with insider information, and “giving back” to society. Puleez. Government salaries are responsible for their enormous wealth because all they’ve been doing is taking. And it is easier to take from the public when they “divide and conquer” by keeping all the people into little groups, what people are now calling tribes. What a mess they’ve made of ” E Pluribus Unum.”) Appalling. Thanks, Mr. Miele, for letting me hear your views and those of others who are observing the nature of the situation.
Bedminster NJ 07921
Congrats on making it to the 1000 followers! We are so fortunate to have your voice conveying the truth! There are truly no investigative journalists anymore! Even our local paper is “cut & paste.”
Thanks so much!