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The Democratic Party’s 2018 View of Identity Politics Is Confusing, and Thus Appears Cynical and Opportunistic


The Democratic Party’s 2018 View of Identity Politics Is Confusing, and Thus Appears Cynical and Opportunistic

Glenn Greenwald

The 2016 presidential election was the peak, at least thus far, for the tactics of identity politics in U.S. elections. In the Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton’s potential status as the first female candidate was frequently used not only to inspire her supporters but also to shame and malign those who supported other candidates, particularly Bernie Sanders.


The article begins by asking, “Given its rhetoric, how does the Democratic Party justify supporting white, male machine politicians over credible female challengers, LGBT people, and people of color?”

The Democrat party—there’s nothing small-d democratic about it—doesn’t trouble itself with justfying anything it chooses to do. It simply says to its base, “There is no alternative,” and skips blithely on to the next item on the 1%'s agenda.


Establishment politics must die, and Establishment politicians must be killed off politically if this nation is to revive our dying Democracy.


Political parties in Murka are lightning rods for corporate money and ALL parties need to be outlawed.

If the Green Party starts getting a significant percentage of voters, corporations will use their bottomless money pit (that they use for buying politicians and parties) to buy the Green Party. Ditto any other party that attracts lots of votes.


Maybe their view is cynical and opportunistic? The Clintonites and their neo-liberal/DLC ilk do not really care about progressive issues. They just care about their money, status and power positions. They are the real feckless C-words. They deserve to fail and go away - permanently. They helped hype Donnie for the GOP nomination because they thought he would be easy to beat in the general. Ha! Every report this year about the party establishment shows that they are doing everything they can to suppress truly progressive candidates. They are unrepentant, totally corrupted and unreformable. The party deserves to die for what they have done and are doing. I left for the Green Party after the 2016 primary campaign and the revelations of the Podesta emails, which no one denies are true. Please join me in helping to build a party that is truly the party of progressives and common, ordinary Americans who want to preserve the planet for all life - The Green Party.


Maybe the Democratic Party’s view on identity politics is confusing but the Republican Party’s view isn’t. They want candidates who are white, male, and Christian. In fact, they want a country for white Christians. No confusion there. If nothing else, the Republican Party is clear on identify politics.


Nice article, but Greenwald got his title inverted here: the party’s view of identity politics is cynical and opportunistic, and thus confusing.

A weakness in identity politics allows it to be exploited easily. People imagine that a person of “their identity” will support their interests. But in 2008, 2012, and most transparently in 2016, the Democratic Party ran women and minorities while actively purging official ranks of candidates and officials who would have attended to the issues of women and minorities. And it has doubled down on its efforts to stop progressive candidates from running from and in its ranks by preserving its bought and sold “superdelegates” and instituting new tests of “party loyalty” to exclude progressive candidates and sentiments.

It is worth pointing out that 2016 was not the peak of identity politics in America, though it may have been a recent peak. The peak came around the Civil War, but the identities in question prominently included White southerners. As of 2018, we might think to add “slaveholders,” but most White southerners supportive of slavery and its attendant bigotry were themselves relatively disenfranchised. They voted and eventually fought to support their status as “free men” not subject to slavery nor the wage slavery that was eventually thrust upon them by the Union Army.

There was all sorts of ridiculous bigotry involved, but they were also very realistically oppressed by the system that they fought to save, though perhaps not quite as much as they were by the victors after their loss.

This was and is identity politics. The efforts by oppressed Blacks and Hispanics and women and LGBT people are not identical nor symmetrical, but they are quite similar in regard to a couple very common and important errors.

  • People imagine, as Madeleine Albright encourages them to do, that any female candidate will notice the problems of women and care. Confederate soldiers imagined that because their leaders were white and Southern, that they had the interests of hardscrabble North Carolina farmers in mind to some extent.
  • Oppressed people often imagine that the oppression of other minorities is somehow no loss to them or not their responsibility. Whatever the responsibility, it is a loss.

These notions allowed rich plantation owners to get poor farmers fighting and dying for their ownership of other humans. Some fairly similar ideas accounted for a good deal of Donald Trump’s support in 2016, though Hillary Clinton accounted for more.

But this is also very similar to the sort of thinking that got Democrats voting against their interest for Clinton even after her rigging of the nomination process and acceptance of large scale bribes from foreign governments had been revealed, along with not inconsiderable evidence of mafia ties.

The difficulty in identity politics is not that people are concerned that they be treated fairly and with respect. It’s about time and past time that this should have occurred. The problem is that so many people imagine that this will happen by placing a few token members within an oppressive system, even by supporting that systems oppression to do so.

That lets both parties bait and switch. The Republicans have done it with Trump, though he was far from the ruling class’s first choice. The Democrats did it with Obama two times and attempted it with HRClinton.

White men have been misrepresented by white men for a long time. Supporting a racist patriarchy has not brought wealth and respect to poor white men. Supporting women and minority candidates will not bring respect to women and minorities unless–unless!–those candidates have policies that will take on and take apart the oppression that drives the system, and that is class-based, economic, and violent.


Actually, the Republican party’s position does confuse some people.

There are people who vote for white patriarchy thinking that because they themselves are white and male, the system will somehow serve them, and that the oppression of other people is somehow not their problem.

It’s actually very much like the confusion that drives some Democrats to vote for abusive militarists and corporatists because they themselves are female like the candidate or Black like the candidate.

The positions are not symmetrical because power is not the same. But the errors are pretty close.


I’m a sexist, misogynistic female Bernie Bros who has such internalized misogyny that I couldn’t vote for the woman in the race, so I had to vote instead for Jill Stein. :roll_eyes:

Take THAT Amanda Marcotte - HillShill, BrockRoach extraordinaire!


"Maybe we need to run Bland White Guy 2020 to appease the fake socialists and jackass mansplainers.’” Bland White Women are so much more electable. (sarcasm)


Expecting the Democrats to act on principle is akin to assuming the Republicans will act on empathy


Says the well-off woman living in a bubble to people struggling to just stay alive in this inequitable, undemocratic and corrupt system. Please, rich famous woman, explain to us what a real socialist is, and explain too what a candidate’s gender does to deal with the institutional failures and shortcomings of the capitalist system. Tell us what a neoliberal hack like Clinton would do to structurally change the system to benefit poor women. It isn’t as if a set of policies impacts rich women like her the same as the policies do poor women living on the south side of Chicago. Single payer would result in her paying more taxes, and it would save the lives of poor women and their children.

Clinton of course endorsed Cuomo over Nixon too, which just goes to show that the sexist claims against Sanders and his supporters (which were always absurd on their face) were just slimy and bullshit attacks against people voicing critiques of a shitty candidate, critiques they had no response to.


Well put.


I would vote for a woman for president if she campaigned as antiwar and equal justice for all. This past election had two repulsive candidates, the Dump and half of the Clinton body count builder. I also do not support abortion in any shape, matter or form.


Then you must be sure that YOU never have an abortion. And, don’t fret over what another woman might do regarding that as it is NONE of your concern nor business.


Disappointed to learn that Glenn Greenwald appears on Faux Noise and interacts with Ftucker Carlson that would lead one to believe that they have [much] common ground.


Greenwald has made it clear that he’ll appear anywhere he can get his message out.

He is one of the most principled journalists in the business.


I find it is more surprising that he still gets invited to any new show on television still.


Remember when politicians discussed policy proposals? It was back before the ad guys from Coca-Cola convinced Jimmy Carter to campaign on feelings alone.

Many of us support women and people of color for office without stooping to war criminals like Clinton or Obama. We need more candidates like Angela Davis or Cynthia McKinney, who speak truth to power and demand sensible policies.


Its not just the Democratic Party that is confused an ineffective on identity politics, so is the left wing as this post shows, prioritizing identity over policy.