Commentary: The absurdity of identity politics when identity is self-identified
MINOT, N.D.—There's some weird stuff going on in the national Democratic Party, otherwise known as the organization North Dakota Democrats like Heidi Heitkamp and Mac Schneider like to pretend they aren't a part of during election years.
In recent weeks the party has had to address the problem of superdelegates, an Orwellian classification of elite Democrats whose votes in the party were more equal than those of the nonelites. The elites no longer get a vote on the first ballot of presidential nominations at the national convention.
The party also implemented, and then reversed, a ban on contributions from the fossil fuel industry. Perhaps they realized sidelining an industry vital to areas of America where Democrats need to win elections (like, say, North Dakota?) wasn't such a great idea.
But there may be no more odd corner of byzantine progressive politics than the Democratic Party's attempts to address the issue of gender parity in the ranks of its leadership while simultaneously upholding the idea that gender is a fluid thing.
"Members of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) voted on Saturday to modify its charter to define gender as being determined by self-identification and to include a classification for gender nonbinary members," Jack Crowe wrote recently for National Review. "The previous charter required that all committees be divided evenly between men and women but, under the newly adopted system, committees 'shall be as equally divided as practicable between men and women (determined by gender self-identification) meaning that the variance between men and women in the group cannot exceed one (1).'"
As for those who choose not to identify as any gender? They are called gender nonbinary, and they won't count toward a given committee's equality quota.
This is where we have to stop and admire the absurdity. Or maybe "admire" isn't the right word for it.
Democrats are mandating gender equality while simultaneously holding that gender is a matter of self-identification.
What happens if a woman, at risk of being excluded from some key party committee because of these gender quotas, switches her gender identity to male? Or removes herself from the quota calculations entirely by identifying as nonbinary?
Can our Democratic friends not yet see the absurdity of identity politics when they themselves have turned identity (at least in the realm of gender) into something so completely fluid that anyone can literally be any identity?
Wouldn't the Democratic Party—or any human endeavor, for that matter—be better off choosing leaders based on their merits and not which gender they're identifying as that day?
Why would anyone want to be a member of an organization which treats individuals not as individuals—with a unique set of life experiences and skills and knowledge—but as interchangeable representatives of increasingly arbitrary identity groups?
While I can understand the good intentions behind a desire for inclusion, it also creates situations where otherwise qualified people may be passed over because of their gender or race.
That hardly seems like justice.
Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, a North Dakota political blog, is a Forum Communications commentator. Follow him on Twitter at @RobPort