‘Gender is not the stepchild of radical politics’

“Sanders’ progressivism does not keep him or his supporters from making the same kinds of problematic merit-based claims to presidential employment that white men in every other industry make,” Brittney Cooper writes. Further:

Wanting a woman to rise to the top of an almost all-male pack is not a position that needs defending. What should be defended is the uncritical desire to elect yet another man to a position that 45 men and zero women have held. That choice, to choose another man for President, should be held up to the strictest scrutiny and the highest standard. Gender alone is not a sufficient qualification to be President (though I can think of a few recent Presidents for which this seems to be the only qualification they had). But I am convinced that it should offer an edge in a situation where no cisgender women, trans people or gender nonbinary people have ever had a position. I think race should work similarly. The experiences one gains from being marginalized because of racism and sexism offer invaluable perspectives that often make candidates inclined to be more egalitarian and inclusive, precisely because they know intimately what exclusion feels like. We have another opportunity in this election to make clear that gender is not the stepchild of radical politics, and it is long past time that we take it.

Criticism like this the Sanders campaign is familiar with, and despite Hilary and Bill Clinton’s vacillating support for the problems of gay Americans she earned their vote, not Sanders, in 2016. And much has changed in four years. Cooper, however, addresses not a historic divide so much as an impatience — century-long, I’ll add — among leaders on the left and radical left with questions of gender, sexuality, and race: what thousands of people, mostly men, call, without hiding their condescension, “identity politics.”

Moreover, to concentrate on the Warren-vs-Sanders nonsense exemplifies a political situation in which the American left gets inordinate blame for ideological clashes because the American right is having no clashes at all; the conservative movement, at last having expunged its discordant elements, has recast itself as the shining city on the hill about wich Ronald Reagan rhapsodized on January 20, 1981.

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