The Clinton Identity Problem

For the past couple of weeks, liberal think piece purveyors have been punching left against Bernie Sanders and his supporters, labelling them sexist and misogynistic for daring to have substantive criticisms of the presidential candidate who would like very much for you to know that she is a lady with lady parts. This use of identity politics is an excellent choice by Clinton and her surrogates because how can you possible criticise her for being decidedly against gay families as recently as 2011 when it is you who is against a female candidate in 2015. The choice to run not on policy but on identity is a particularly shrewd decision by the Clinton camp, because it is a truth universally acknowledged that if this primary were to revolve around policy and track records Hillary Clinton would crash and burn.

When writers like Amanda Marcotte and Rebecca Traister fire back on criticism from Bernie Sanders with allegations of misogyny, it’s a calculated move – in the words of The Office’s Andy Bernard, “Andy Bernard doesn’t lose games. He wins them, or he quits them because they’re unfair.” This is what the Clinton cabal is doing: they cannot win the substance game so they will quit the substance game for being unfair and pick up the game of Identitarian Bullshit.

With basically every pundit agreeing that Hillary lacks liberal substance, it’s not a surprise that Clinton and her supporters turn instead to conversation-derailing tactics to defend themselves. Hillary Clinton barely passes for a Democrat, let alone a liberal, and with the entrance of Bernie Sanders in the 2016 election, she is now running in a liberal race. The 2016 election may well decide the trajectory of the Democratic party for the foreseeable future, whether or not Democrats will be contented with being a center-left catchall party, or whether they will seek to emulate the democratic socialism of the rest of the world (looking at you, Canada).

It’s almost impossible to have a viable conversation about the values of the presidential candidate – and the values of the larger Democratic party – when every reasonable criticism is derailed with accusations of sexism. And this is certainly not to say that sexism against Hillary Clinton is something to be diminished, but the manipulation of very real accusations of sexism into a tool for political gain is reminiscent of the highly racialized Clinton smear of president Obama back in 2008. 
But maybe that’s what Clinton supporters want. They sure as hell don’t want more debates, so why would they want more discussion? Why would you fight a fair game if you know you can’t win it?


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