When I consider what Hillary Clinton is likely to say in a presidential debate, I have one guiding principle, namely, that electing her to the position of U.S. president is rationally indefensible. Her appeal to voters will inevitably involve lies or sleazy diversionary tactics. Such was my prediction for Sunday night's presidential debate, and I was hardly disappointed.
The nature of the candidate and the timing and venue of the debate, should have alerted me more clearly to the nature of the forthcoming sleaze. As the pin-up girl for identity politics, debating in largely black South Carolina on the eve of Martin Luther King Day, Clinton decided to play the racial identity card, a "blaxploitation" move designed to keep black voters on the Democrat's corporatist plantation.
Now, of course, it was totally fitting, and given the timing and venue, politically obligatory that all three candidates' introductory remarks should pay tribute to Dr. King, a morally heroic exemplar for Americans of any race. But for "Sistah Hillary," that was only the start of her evening's blatantly racial appeal; an appeal that honored King's pigmentation vastly more than his principles.
The lion's share of Clinton's night was spent schmoozing African Americans over her unequaled love for the first black president Barack Obama, to the exclusion of considering at all whether his presidential agenda, while undoubtedly pleasing to plutocrats, could have more greatly profited actual black people. The Black Agenda Report,a very worthwhile black leftist publication, apparently begs to differ from Sistah Hillary on this subject. Consider, for example, BAR's rather scathing appraisal of Obama's legacy. Also to the exclusion, apparently, of remembering her own 2008 campaign's racist dog whistles against that same Barack Obama. But hey, the chance to wax distantly indignant, an identity-liberal specialty, over the genuinely reprehensible water crisis in Flint, Michigan, which is a black-majority city, gave Clinton a chance to drown out 2008 with a more decorous sort of dog whistling, and Hillary's whistle was certainly up to the task.
To sum matters up, Sistah Hillary decided to debate in black face. While Clinton's political-correctness police, her identity-politics brownshirts, will predictably scream racism or sexism over my precise, if acerbic language, no Democratic debate tactic could more deeply insult, or undermine, the legacy of Dr. King than Clinton's Orwellian minstrel show performance.
Now, in describing my talk of "blackface" and "minstrel shows", I of course realize I am way off base in one particular respect, Clinton's intended audience. Whereas minstrel shows' performers donned racially demeaning blackface to regale white audiences, Sistah Hillary assumed her own racially demeaning blackface to seduce black ones. And while the demeaning of blacks is the one factor Clinton's minstrel show had in common with earlier ones, I can only devoutly hope such identity-politics minstrel shows soon have something in common with historical ones: that both are tabooed by society as racially insulting farces.
Identity politics is itself a farce, and far more often than not a cynical attempt to hoodwink the identity groups whose interests it supposedly exists to protect. Let's face it, identity politics routinely harms its political client groups in four crucial senses. First, it demeans identity group members, denying their often vast individual differences and their ability to think in broadly human categories that transcend group identity. To anyone familiar with MLK's life, it's obvious that his success depended crucially on his simultaneous ability to self-identify as an African American and to reason in universal moral categories that utterly transcended his identity as a member of any particular nation or race. Second, it's manipulative, encouraging identity group members to think in terms of racial, ethnic, and gender identities for their manipulators' purposes, when in fact it might be far more beneficial for them to think in terms of other ones, say as victims of economic injustice. Third, it inflames the "us vs. them" racist, sexist, or xenophobic hostilities from which they already suffer, needlessly angering poor whites, who feel their own very real problems neglected amidst the canonization of approved identity groups and their own demonization. Last but hardly least, it frequently stymies the human development of identity group members, subjecting them to the low expectations of officially recognized victims, while sparing them the constructive criticism that is essential to individual growth.