Criminal case done! And also some thoughts about identity and the Democratic primary

First of all, I know I’m nearly two weeks late posting about this, but as many of you have already seen, the final charge against me was dropped! So, hooray, my criminal case is over.

Unrelatedly (well, mostly unrelatedly), I want to make a point about the Democratic primary and identity.

My approach to this primary, and most elections, is largely a mix of ideology and practical concerns. Since there is little danger in most elections that I’m going to find any major candidate to be too far left for my taste, what I generally want is the leftmost candidate that I think could win and could do the job effectively (which in this case, in my assessment, is Bernie Sanders). However, I don’t think it’s wrong to factor in identity when you’re juding candidates. If someone thinks multiple candidates are ideologically and pragmatically acceptable, but identifies with one of them because of her long fight to overcome, say, sexism and misogyny, and that last factor pushes that voter over the fence in terms of who they support, I don’t see anything bad about that. Identity doesn’t really come into play for me in this one because I have serious problems with Clinton’s hawkishness and DLC history. That doesn’t mean that nobody should be motivated by identifying with a candidate.

Let’s say that identity issues did factor significantly into my primary decision-making, though. What would that mean? I almost didn’t write this post because, since I’m writing about a “what if” that isn’t actually the case, it seems superfluous. But the discourse about identity and the primary has bugged me enough that I’m writing it anyway.

A lot of people assume that between Clinton and Sanders, I should identify with Clinton, because of our common history of experiencing sexism and misogyny. And it’s true that we both have that history. But I don’t see why so many people think it’s obvious that I should identify with “woman” more than “secular Jewish social democrat who has been arrested for anti-racist activism.” Or even, you know, any component of that description of Sanders. We’ve never had a Jewish president (either ethnically/culturally, religiously, or both). Or any non-Christian president.

There’s a particular feminist writer – I am not going to name her because she gets enough shit already, and I don’t know who is reading this, and I don’t want to direct any more shit her way – who is very pro-Clinton, and has written some things about how meaningful Clinton’s experiences with sexism are, and how familiar it feels to her when people say sexist things to and about Clinton. I can relate to that. I don’t have a public-facing job in the way that she and Clinton do, so I probably can’t relate to it in quite the same way, but I do work in a very male-dominated field. But I also see the photos and video of a young Bernie Sanders getting arrested – looking as the AV Club memorably put it, “like a young Rick Moranis gone political” – and picture a hundred activist arrests that I’ve seen, not to mention the one I actually experienced. I’m not talking, here, about how much “cred” it should get him, as I don’t think whether someone fought for civil rights in the ’60s has much bearing on whether their racial justice platform in 2016 is any good. I’m talking about identification, and what people assume that other people identify with.

I wish there was more acknowledgment that even if you are a woman or female-presenting, even if you have experienced sexism and misogyny, identity is about more than that alone. Experience is about more than that alone.

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