The Corner

Politics & Policy

Van Jones Perfectly Illustrates the Flaws of Identity Politics

Talking to a white, female Democrat on a CNN’s special called The Messy Truth, Van Jones had to stifle an outburst when told that his interviewee voted for every Democrat on the ballot except Hillary Clinton. The Washington Free Beacon has the clip:

Jones’s voice and mien change when he says, “You didn’t vote for anybody [for president]. But you are a woman! You are a Democratic woman! And Hillary Clinton — as best I can tell — is a woman! I don’t get it!”

To most people, Jones’s shock might seem unwarranted. But it follows the logic of identity politics perfectly. Clinton is a white, female Democrat. His interviewee is a white, female Democrat. So how on earth can the two not get along?

Now, Jones did a good job hosting this TV special, which gave voters a platform to share why they voted as they did. But in giving this woman time to respond, he provoked an answer that carries lessons for Democrats hung up on identity: “[Clinton] did her job in making me not want to vote for Trump, all those scary things about what he says, but she did not do her job in showing me why I should vote for her.” It turns out that identity alone will not persuade people to vote.