IS GENDER ENOUGH?...

IS GENDER ENOUGH? Sam writes that "the idea that the only reason anyone is supporting [Hillary] is because of her gender is offensive." I think that's wrong, at least insofar as it assumes that gender would be an insufficient reason to support Hillary Clinton. I know a lot of young, progressive women who are (a bit uncomfortably) behind Clinton almost entirely because of her gender. If you're a white dude, that may seem like a really bad reason to support a presidential candidate. But as a white dude, I'm not convinced that us white dudes are in a position to evaluate exactly how meaningful it would be to have a female president. Dismissing identity politics is, I fear, something of a luxury accorded to the already overrepresented.

There's a tendency among some liberals to dismiss the relevance of "identity politics" in a high-minded way and argue for the primacy of policies, or ideology. That's not necessarily wrong -- in many ways, I ascribe to it -- but it's a tendency helped along, I thing, by not really noticing that having members of your "group" control the government does indeed ensure certain advantages and unconscious sympathies. In that way, judgments often derided as identity politics can actually be quite substantive and rational. Doesn't make them right, necessarily, but the "right" answer in something as fuzzy as a political primary isn't necessarily in reach.

Now, that doesn't mean that supporting Clinton largely on gender grounds is the right call. Given three hypothetical futures, one in which she wins, one in which Edwards wins, one in which Obama wins, a coherent tale can be spun explaining the superior progressivity of any of them. But Clinton's gender is an inextricable part of her appeal. Pretend she's a male and it's almost impossible to imagine someone with her resume, record, and personal characteristics proving so dominant in the Democratic primary. But she's not a male, and her gender, after 43 white male presidents, is not an insignificant variable, nor should it be.

--Ezra Klein

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