The Ranting Kraut

19.3.2006 – 27.9.2010

The Politics of the Irrelevant

Posted by rantingkraut on September 16, 2008

Heather McDonald has looked at the way the US elections are becoming dominated by substantively unimportant issues. The Republicans pioneered the habit of parading their family members as electoral assets. The democrats duly copied them.
But the family show-and-tell imperative remains silly nevertheless, demonstrating a misguided conflation of the personal with the political. You could search the Federalist Papers long and hard without finding any indication that having a loving family is a qualification for office. Few investors care whether the companies whose shares they hold are headed by CEOs who had supportive mothers; it’s hard to see why filial relations should be any more relevant to a president’s capacity to negotiate with Congress or to conclude a treaty.” (Source)
The democrats, on their part, made an issue
out of diversity -a factor that should be irrelevant if people are not to be judged by the colour of their skin …. This is now being copied by the Republicans who made having a female VP candidate a priority -an astute tactical move with lamentable long term implications:
Washington Republicans have hardly kept themselves free of race- and gender-based decision making: one can think of many cabinet members and judicial nominations made on these grounds. But now they’ve gone all the way and introduced irrelevant chromosome considerations into the presidential race—the most important political choice in the land. And they have lost any standing to criticize Democrats for playing the race and gender cards.
(…)
Presidential politics, and especially vice-presidential selections, have always been driven by sectionalism, poll-driven voter segmentation and demographics, and economic stratification. But race and gender are different than whether someone comes from a Sun Belt state or can appeal to disaffected auto workers. Race and gender are almost never a valid job qualification. Yet they have taken over in field after field—whether in the hiring of lawyers and selection of judges, in the choice of books and art to which students will be exposed from the moment that they step into a classroom, in the composition of police and fire departments, or in the selection of corporate boards. This tendency must be fought, not capitulated to.
” (Source)

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