The custom used to be that when a politician lost an election, he would graciously accept defeat and congratulate his opponent on a hard-fought race.
Mitt Romney, the second hapless white guy that Barack Obama thrashed at the polls, certainly followed the century and a quarter tradition when he managed to lose the 2012 presidential election he should have won.
All that gentlemanly behavior began to change when Hillary Clinton, also unexpectedly, lost the 2016 presidential election at the hands of Donald Trump.
According to Doug Wead, a presidential historian, Ms. Clinton reacted to her defeat with cursing and throwing things.
Later, she helped to fan the flames of the conspiracy theory that Trump had colluded with the Russians to steal the election out from under her, something that consumed the first two years of the Trump presidency until the Mueller Report debunked it.
That takes us to the 2018 midterm elections and the race for governor of Georgia. Stacey Abrams, a former member of the Georgia House of Representatives, faced off against Brian Kemp, Georgia’s Secretary of State.
Abrams, a woman of color, believed that she was poised to make history by being elected the first female African American governor of Georgia.
However, she managed to lose by 50,000 votes.
Abrams refused to gracefully admit defeat, declining to concede the election, and even filing suit to try to get the results overturned, claiming voter suppression.
However, Brian Kemp was duly sworn in as governor of Georgia on January 14 and has been occupying that office ever since. He recently signed into law one of the first fetal heartbeat laws restricting abortion.
Meanwhile Stacey Abrams has been traveling the country, proclaiming herself the “real” winner of the 2018 contest, and fending off rumors of further political campaigns, for the senate in 2002, or even as someone’s vice president, the latter of which she found to be insulting.
She has suggested that she might join the myriad of Democratic pols running for president.
According to Fox News, Abrams spoke at an event held by the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C. and proclaimed that she had “won” because of identity politics.
“I would argue that identity politics is exactly who we are, and it’s exactly how we won,” she said.
Identity politics is the notion that when running for public office that character and political agenda matter less than immutable qualities such as gender and skin color.
In the modern context, if one is female or a member of a minority group, one is better suited to win public office. Old white guys have three strikes against them, age, race, and gender.
Naturally two problems exist with Abrams’ thesis. First, her protestations aside, she lost the election.
She is not governor of Georgia. Brian Kemp is governor of Georgia.
Second, old white guys seem to be doing just fine running for public office.
Donald Trump was elected president in 2016 and, despite the best efforts of congressional Democrats and the media, he is still president of the United States.
Moreover, even in Abrams’ own Democratic Party, old white guys seem to be on top still.
The two presidential candidates in the lead in all the polls are Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, both old, white, and guys. Kamala Harris, who would seem to fit the identity politics meme, is languishing in the middle of the pack at about eight percent according to Real Clear Politics.
Oddly enough, sexual preference, at least in practice, does not seem to enter into the identity politics meme.
Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is young, white, a guy, and gay.
But Greta Lafleur proclaimed in the Los Angeles Review of Books that a recent Time Magazine cover of Buttigieg and his husband represented a “heterosexuality without women.”
It’s hard to understand what Lafleur meant, except to suggest that Buttigieg, a Rhodes scholar and military veteran, is not “gay enough” because he does not fit some kind of swishy stereotype.
Gay people come in all shapes, sizes, and walks of life.
Lafleur thinks because Buttigieg would look out of place in a typical Pride Parade that he might as well be hetero for all she is concerned.
Something to think about a year from now when Joe or Bernie squares off against President Trump.