The phrase “identity politics” has been thrown around so haphazardly in the wake of the election that it’s lost more of its meaning with every casually derisive mention. As Democrats grapple with what they can do to gain traction after Donald Trump’s victory, arguments have raged on over whether highlighting “identity politics” — now largely understood to mean any issues specific to women, minorities, and LGBTQ people — cost Democrats the election.
Samantha Bee, for one, thinks that’s basically bullshit.
“Identity politics is the dismissive term for what we used to call ‘civil rights’ and ‘equality,’” Bee said on her December 12 show. Also, she made sure to add, white and male is an identity, as is being Christian — the two fronts Steve Doocy’s Fox News roundtable and other like-minded media outlets feel are most under attack.
Basically, as Vox’s Matt Yglesias put it: “There is no other way to do politics than to do identity politics.”
What’s more, Bee said, standing up for civil rights can, and did, win Democrats elections. “You know what happens when Democrats stand up for transgender rights? They win,” she said, pointing to North Carolina’s gubernatorial race, which was recently called for Democrat Roy Cooper over Republican incumbent Pat McCrory, a staunch supporter of the state’s discriminatory anti-LGBTQ laws.
Bee did acknowledge that Hillary Clinton’s messaging on jobs, while far more present than most coverage gave her credit for, could’ve used some work beyond “trumped-up trickle-down economics.” But the real shame, she insisted, would be losing the people who did vote for Democrats over those who might someday.
“If your panic over a loss makes you abandon both your principles and the people who actually vote for you,” Bee pleaded to Democrats, “you’ll be in the wilderness for a decade — or until Trump’s Cabinet sells the wilderness to oil companies, so really, like a month.”
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee airs Monday nights at 10:30 pm on TBS.