My teenager and I were driving yesterday, and something on the radio about Chris “Toast” Christie triggered a discussion about politics and the 2016 presidential race. I realized with shock and horror that my kid will be eligible to vote in that election!
My consternation has nothing to do with HOW she’ll vote; she is intelligent with a capacity for empathy and abstract thought, so she’ll be a Democrat. No, the angst was due to the external confirmation that, having parented a soon-to-be full-fledged citizen, I am fucking old.
To distract myself from that distressing thought, I pounced on the opportunity to discuss a controversial issue with one person (my soon-to-be voter) and then extrapolate wildly…sort of like Tom Friedman, only without the first-class international flight to an exotic place and reimbursable taxi service.
I asked my daughter what she thought about the Democrats’ prospects for 2016. The only prospective candidate she’s heard of is Hillary Clinton, so I asked her how she would feel about voting for HRC.
Remembering how some of y’all have pooh-poohed HRC’s ability to draw in younger voters because of her age, I asked the kid if it matters to her that HRC is around the same age as her (the kid’s) grandmother.
She replied that while Clinton is certainly old, she’s “a boss,” which seems to mean formidable and impressive despite her decrepitude, so the kid has no reservations on that score.
And recalling how some here have expressed contempt for anything that smacks of identity politics, I asked the kid how important the prospect of a female president is to her.
She surprised me with the ferocity of her zeal to see a woman president. She perceives the men-only history of the presidency as a major injustice, as was the unbroken line of white males that preceded Mr. Obama. (That’s my girl.)
So what does it all mean? Nothing — it’s just one anec-data point. But if HRC does get the nomination, something I remain ambivalent about, maybe her candidacy won’t completely demoralize the yoots and fail to turn out young women. At least one soon-to-be young voter has an open mind about it.
We Democrats suck badly at branding in comparison to the Republicans, who have pulled off the impressive feat of convincing voters that they are the party of fiscal responsibility, national security, family values and small government, despite being wildly profligate, astoundingly reckless warmongering, whoremongering transvaginal probe-proponents who insist on policing private behavior between consenting adults.
The Democratic brand is less clear, for reasons that are both admirable (complexity) and contemptible (corporate sponsorship). Choosing a candidate solely on the basis of identity politics would be cynical and stupid. I’m not personally sold on HRC, and I’d certainly be willing to support a male candidate who better matches my values (which is why I chose Obama over Clinton in 2007).
But all things being equal, we shouldn’t dismiss the importance of breaking barriers. Contrary to wingnut gospel, identity politics wasn’t the core of Obama’s appeal, but it wasn’t wholly alien to it either, and we need not apologize for that. Identity politics isn’t everything, but it’s not nothing. It’s useful shorthand for conveying the Democratic value of inclusiveness. And that’s important.
PS: I realize some of y’all think it’s too soon to discuss 2016 and that we should focus on 2014 instead. I mostly agree, but this is topical, to me, at least. Feel free to skip this thread or talk about local races if you prefer.