I'm promoting this comment by Donna B. of Opining Online to the front page because it is a piece of vivid, unmanipulated evidence -- from a private family gathering, not a reporter's mike shoved in someone's face -- that needs to be noted:
I just spent the weekend with my family in SW Arkansas, a county that went for Kerry in 2004, and where most of my relatives are life-long Democrats. The discussion was mostly about voting Republican for the first time in their lives if Obama gets the nomination and it's all about religion. These gun and religion clinging Democrats are completely repulsed by Rev. Wright and his message and having gone to church all their lives, are unwilling to forgive Obama for even joining that church. Several of them said outright that "you can't find Jesus Christ" by immersing yourself in the hate of any other human regardless of color. Granted, it's a small sample, but I was really quite amazed at the disappointment expressed.
Point taken. Quite thrillingly, much of the country is indeed ready to move beyond sectarianism and to assess one another directly as human beings, by conduct and character, with no automatic points added or deducted for category. Obama's appeal was precisely that that was what he offered; his own long history as a member of Trinity Church starkly contradicts it.
And in fact, the Democratic party's attachment to identity politics -- now exposed as the blind alley of all time -- is what is tearing it apart and destroying its chance at the White House. (That and, oh yeah, the good news from Iraq.) And quite rightly so. Natural selection also works on ideas, and identity politics is one that is dying out and taking its adherents with it.
To repeat myself: not that people shouldn't take great interest and pride in their particular origins -- but as variations on the human theme. And: identity politics were a helpful transitional stage, a nurturing chrysalis, for people who had had their confidence crushed by generations of internalized prejudice. I know, because feminism was that for me. I compared it to an elevator that got me out of the basement -- but so I could get out on the ground floor and walk away on level ground with the rest of humanity, not so I could spend the rest of my life huddling in the elevator.