Friday, November 13, 2015

Turns out women can be leftists after all

Nothing better exemplifies the end game of liberal identitarian politics than a talking point that's gaining traction on the American left: Hillary Clinton, we are told, has to be a centrist, and we should accept this.

By the rules of liberalism, the argument makes perfect sense. Since men aren't hindered by the usual impediments to political success that women face, they have the privilege of practicing politics that are even more progressive than usual. Women, meanwhile, face all kinds of personal and systematic discrimination that stymies their advancement in government, and can only hope to do so by adopting politics that are more amenable to those who would stand in their way. A variation on this argument, of course, has been occasionally invoked in defense of Barack Obama, who arguably had to adopt centrist politics in order to offset the liabilities of racism.

Obviously identity biases often become political liabilities, but what does it say about liberals when they reflexively propose to offset them by tacking center? After all, there are other ways to overcome bias. For example, it's quite clear that the major factor allowing Clinton to overcome institutionalized bias has not been her centrist politics, but rather her massive campaign budget. And though she chose to raise those funds through decades of pandering to wealthy centrists, she could also have done so through the financial support of leftists committed to helping her overcome patriarchy. It's fairly clear, for example, that Elizabeth Warren was poised to make a strong run despite her decades of relatively strident opposition to Clinton's Wall Street funding base. So why does feminism require us to excuse centrists -- rather than provide material support to women?

There is, of course, a strong argument to be made that no amount of material support to leftist women can help the overcome the death-grip centrist oligarchs have on the capitalist state. But in that case, the solution is obviously not to sell out leftist women, but to overthrow capitalism so that women can compete for office on a level playing field. Sadly, as long as that solution stays axiomatically off the table for liberals, liberal feminists will continue to oppress leftist women for the sake of saving capitalism.