Identity politics isn’t new.
People often vote for people that look like them. This is why politics is still a majority white/male field — up until recently, the majority of voters were white men and before that, they were the only people who could vote. This voting base voted in accordance with their demographic from the very bottom to the very top.
Today, For the first time in the history of the US, we have begun to see our population, voter base, and candidate pool diversify on every level giving more people the choice to vote for a politician who represents their demographics and their beliefs.
Sometimes, however, someone’s demographic doesn’t match their beliefs. There are sites like “Women for Trump” which is a group of women who voted against Hillary. Who went against their demographics to vote for someone they believed in. While I might disagree with their sentiments, is it within my rights to shame them for doing something that is 100% their right?
We hate identity politics
We’re always talking about it.
The calls of, “We can’t have another white man in the office,” have already started for the 2020 election and it’s exactly because white men have always voted within their demographics. Even when people from different ethnicities, religions, or genders were given the right to vote, not only were they discouraged but until now when the voter pool has diversified enough for minorities to be a critical part of the election, no one but white men, the majority, had a chance.
Our history represents the legal voting base when only men could vote, but now that voter base isn’t nearly as white or male as it used to be. Every legal citizen can vote, and as more minorities begin to run for office and our candidates begin to reflect our population, more people are showing up to vote for them.
And some minorities or women are showing up to vote for white men.
Which is legally within their rights, but I’m beginning to think that it isn’t socially within their rights.
Between articles labeled “What is with all the white men who voted for the Republican in the Georgia governor race?” and “White women, come get your people.” Anyone from a group of people who are typically put down for their gender or race are judged — get this — more harshly than the group of people who have been doing it since the beginning of the damn world.
In some ways, I get it, often we do believe similarly to other people in our group. As minorities or an oppressed group of people, we relate on some level through the shared experience of being not quite equal. Often times this will lead black people to vote for black people and women for women. But that’s not always the case, and it’s completely fine if it isn’t. After all, white men don’t always vote for other white men anymore.
Sometimes — big surprise — just because someone looks like us doesn’t mean we agree with them. And again, this is fine. This is what personal beliefs are: different.
But yet, we can’t seem to let minority groups have that same freedom to choose their side. Somehow it’s a betrayal when they vote against the people that look like them.
We would never write an article entitled “What’s up with all the white men who voted for Obama?” because white men are still the group with the most power in politics. As a result, they also get to vote for who they want to without the shaming we find when minorities vote for white men. In fact, white men are condoned for voting for minorities because voting for a minority automatically makes them “not racist” or “not sexist.”
Sure, identity politics is a thing, people often vote for the people that look like them, but it isn’t a rule, and we wouldn’t want it to be.
If I’m wrong, I’m wrong
Sure it hurts more when we’ve been “betrayed” by a member of our “tribe” but that isn’t what makes them wrong. A black man or woman isn’t voting “against” black people when they vote for Republicans, they are voting for different ideas. Ones they genuinely hold.
Why then do we shame black people or women for voting for white men as if by being a republican they have abandoned their blackness or femaleness?
We were not born into tribes that make us the natural enemy of white men.
We’re born individuals and inevitably some black people will have voted for Trump, some immigrants will agree with his policies, and some women will choose to ignore his questionable perspectives towards women. That’s their choice.
And yeah, we may not be able to understand it, and they may have even been wrong to vote for Donald Trump. But they weren’t any more wrong to vote for him as a female, or black person than a white man was.
Let’s talk about actual wrongs
Why don’t we write articles about how a woman or a black man lost a nomination not because of her or his ideas but because of her sex or his race.
Those are injustices.
But someone who is part of a minority voting for a different direction than the rest of that minority isn’t injustice. That’s a practice of freedom. Just because we couldn’t understand why they hold beliefs that clash with other people of their group doesn’t mean they’ve committed some great wrong.
We are offended when minorities vote seemingly against their interests and so we talk about it. We feel betrayed when someone from “our tribe” justifies voting for someone who seems to blatantly not care about our group or our rights.
But why aren’t we offended when white men do the same? Just because someone hasn’t been offended by a candidate doesn’t make them any less wrong for voting for that candidate if that candidate is indeed morally inferior to another. Or if that candidate has shown over and over that they would prove to be the worse person for the job.
The injustice is that people are voting for broken systems, socially racist, and admittedly misogynist people. The injustice is that our supposedly better more equal politics has them so neglected and scared that the only way they see out is to vote for someone whose biggest prop is that they aren’t a politician and they aren’t like the last guy.
But in the end, not all Republicans are like that, and if it’s wrong for a woman or a black person, it’s wrong for a white man.
Isn’t that the definition of equality?