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I Don’t Think “Identity Politics” Means What Ross Douthat Thinks It Means


To this rally-goer, though, the most striking thing about “Restoring Honor” was the way the pageant effortlessly tapped into the same rich vein of identity politics that has given us figures as diverse as Palin and Howard Dean, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — but did so, somehow, without advancing any explicitly political agenda.

Now more than ever, Americans love leaders who seem to validate their way of life. This spirit of self-affirmation was at work in evangelicals’ enduring support for Bush, in the enthusiasm for the Dean campaign among the young, secular and tech-savvy, and now in the devotion that Palin inspires among socially conservative women.

Douthat is correct that the substance-free Beckstallnacht was all about identity politics – white, Christian conservatives throwing a temper tantrum demanding that we “turn back to God” because they feel like they’re “losing our country.”

This explains George W. Bush’s and The Quitter’s appeal to the same group of fundies. They’re “one of them.”

But…Howard Dean?

I get that the right loves to say that blacks voted for Obama because he’s black, but unless there were lots of middle-aged MDs-from-Manhattan-turned-politicians among the Deaniacs, I have no idea what’s he’s getting at.

Dean’s candidacy was driven in large part to his opposition to the Iraq war, which last time I checked, was rather explicitly political and has nothing to do with “identity politics.” WTF?

Tbogg has more.

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