At this point, it’s safe to say that Nimrata Randhawa has a far, far better chance to be the first female president of the United States than Hillary Clinton. But here’s the question: When or if Nimrata (she goes by “Nikki”) — a conservative, Indian-American daughter of immigrants who married Michael Haley, became governor of South Carolina, and is now the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations — wins a presidential election, will Hillary’s friends and supporters hail Haley’s ascension to the White House as a tremendous achievement for women? Will the fans of intersectional feminism laud the ultimate success of a woman of color?
Not likely. At this point, we all know the drill. There is one way and one way only for women — especially black or brown women — to take a true step forward, and that’s through progressive politics. Identity politics works like this: Progressives do everything in their power to explicitly and unequivocally stoke race- and gender-related resentments and grievances. Any pushback against identity politics is labeled denialism at best and racism or sexism at worst. Progressive ideas are so self-evidently superior that opposition is best explained as grounded in misogyny or the always-reliable “fear of change.” Opposition, even from women and even from people of color, is proof of the awful and enduring power of sexism and white supremacy.
I have to ask fundamentally, a man who bragged about sexual assault won the election and won 53 percent of the white women’s vote. What does that say about the challenges that one faces in women’s empowerment, that in effect misogyny won with a lot of women voters?
Clinton’s answer was textbook identity politics. After a quick nod to the “cross currents” that impact “any campaign,” she said:
But it is fair to say as you just did that certainly, misogyny played a role. That just has to be admitted. And why and what the underlying reasons why is what I’m trying to parse out myself.
She wasn’t done, not by any means. Hillary continued:
I would just say this: There is a constant struggle — and not just women, women and men — in a time of rapid change, like the one we are living through, between something that is different that may hold out even possible positive consequences, and something that is familiar and something that really is first and foremost about security of what you have right now. And I think in this election there was a very real struggle between what is viewed as change that is welcomed and exciting to so many Americans and change which is worrisome and threatening to so many others. And you layer on the first woman president over that, and I think some people — women included — had real problems.
Hillary also went on to say that Trump “looks like somebody’s who’s been a president before.”
This is a truly extraordinary statement. Let’s be clear: The “change” that Hillary represented was nothing more and nothing less than her gender. During the campaign, she wrapped both of her arms around Barack Obama, pledged to continue all the most important elements of his cultural and political legacy, but to do it — drumroll please — as a woman. In this fictional universe, then, a real-estate tycoon and reality-TV star with exactly zero political experience represents the status quo mainly because he’s a man.
Yet Hillary knows, Kristof knows, and everyone who has the slightest shred of intellectual integrity knows that if, say, Nikki Haley had been at the top of the ticket, she would have won the majority of white women also. She would have won the majority of white men. The alleged racist misogynists would have turned out in force for a woman of color. How do we know this? Well, they certainly did in South Carolina, a state that’s hardly considered a bastion of progressive gender politics.
Here’s a thought. It’s revolutionary, I know, but hang with me for a moment. In the United States of America, the (R) or (D) next to a name matters far, far more to the electoral outcome in any given race than does the (M) or (F) of the candidates’ sex. Let’s go even further (again, I’m going crazy here, so be patient), and even say that the (R) or (D) matters more than the (B) or (W) of the candidates’ race. If Ben Carson or Tim Scott had been the nominee, wouldn’t he have won a majority of the white vote and lost a majority of the black vote?
In the aftermath of the election, the Democrats are doing their own soul-searching, with many of the questions boiling down to a battle between ideas and identities. Did they lose because they nominated a bad candidate who advanced insufficiently attractive ideas? Or did they lose because, in this election cycle at least, there were just too many racists and sexists? It’s understandable and human that Hillary would point the finger rather than look in the mirror, but if her side wins the argument, look for Democrats to do their dead-level best now and in the future to inflame race- and gender-based grievances. They will tell millions of Americans that the color of their skin and their “gender identity” should dictate their thoughts and beliefs, and that opposition isn’t based on reason or logic but rather hate and fear.
Here’s the thing, though — that destructive narrative is so powerful that, next time, it might just win. If it does, Democrats will feel vindicated, triumphant liberal culture warriors will redouble their assault on conservative ideas and institutions, and the national fabric will continue to fray.
Democrats, ignore Hillary Clinton, for all our sakes.
— David French is a staff writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and an attorney.
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