A Warning to Republicans Against Playing Identity Politics

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R)

As the primary season winds down, and the general election campaign picks up steam, the decisions that now have to be made about each party’s VP nominee have been brought to the forefront. Accordingly, bands of people who support various candidates have begun to organize in support of a particular choice. While the decision ultimately rests with John McCain, and, to a lesser degree, the RNC delegates, that has not stopped Internet politicos from expressing their opinions.

One of the most prominent efforts of this kind involves Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Supporters of a McCain/Palin ticket have wasted no time in creating a website and expressing their opinions online, both on this site and others.


Don’t get me wrong, Palin has a bright future in the GOP, and could very well end up in the Oval Office herself someday. Despite this , she is not the correct pick for McCain’s running mate, and some of the arguments being made in favor of her selection are disturbing, to say the least – particularly considering they are being made by Conservative Republicans.

The arguments aren’t exclusive to Palin supporter, fans of Bobby Jindal (R-LA) and even Mike Steele (R-MD) are using many of the same arguments – although their supporters seem to be far less numerous. The base line is something along the lines of “Republicans have to reach out to minorities and women, and can’t keep choosing old white men.”

While its true that we do need to broaden our base by attracting new members from minority communities, picking candidates based primarily on their race or gender runs against what Conservatives stand for, and what Americans should be looking for in their elected officials. When choosing leaders for the country, we should look towards their experience and qualifications , their visions for the future, and their stances on various issues.

Recent polls have shown that Americans place an extremely low value on the race and gender of a candidate – only 13% of the voting public believes McCain needs to pick a woman or minority as his running mate, and less than half that number of Republicans hold that view.

I have no objections to a woman or minority candidate on the ticket, but am far more concerned about the qualifications and vision of any potential running mate than I am about their race or gender. A minority pick is fine, but only if that person would also be the top pick in a kind of “blind draw” – without knowing their sex or color.

Republicans do need to increase their appeal outside of White Christians, but this should be done by pointing out the benefits of the Conservative agenda to each group, not by rushing to make the kind of “affirmative action” picks that are more at home in the Democratic party. Republicans should stick to being the party of action, competence, and vision – and avoid picking candidate based on superficial characteristics like their race or sex.

Feel free to comment.



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3 responses to “A Warning to Republicans Against Playing Identity Politics

  1. Ted

    Matt, man-o-man are you off base here.

    Do you think people like me would be/are pushing Sen Elizabeth Dole as VP? You know she’s a woman.

    Do you think people like me would be/are pushing Sen Kay Baily Hutchinson as VP? You know she’s a woman.

    Do you think people like me would be/are pushing former Gov Christie Todd Whitman as VP? You know she’s a woman.

    We’re not pushiing Condi Rice.

    We’re not pushing Hawaii Gov. Lingle or the woman Connecticut Gov.



    Matt, will you please get off this “identity, shmidentity” politics stuff.

    Sarah Palin is the best regardless whether she were woman, man or hermaphrodite. And if she can be an example for future women to aspire to such greatness, all the better!

  2. Ted

    and by the way, I and other commenters like me had absoultely nothing to do with creating the palinforvp website, which I believe has been around for WELL OVER A YEAR!

  3. As the proprietor of the site you linked (we didn’t just launch, by the way, we’ve been running since February 2007), I feel a need to let you know that we are not about identity politics. We beleive very firmly that Governor Palin’s tough leadership in a very toxic political environment is what qualifies her for the ticket, not her gender. Does it help our case that she is a woman? Yes. But would I still be supporting her if she were a man, you bet.

    If anyone would like any more specific on the specifics of the Palin record and why we are supporting her, you can email me at palinforvp@gmail.com. I do my best to reply to every question in as much detail as I can.

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