The Crest of Cudgel Politics?

Ethnicity isn't everything.

The idea of political momentum as represented by a pendulum is an appealing image, because it implies that—like Fortune’s wheel—the out of favor will return to favor, and no extreme position can sustain its velocity forever. Eventually it runs out of gas and begins to swing back. The problem is gauging the moment where the tip of the pendulum hangs still, just before it starts to pick up speed in the opposite direction.  

It’s notoriously hard to call an inflection point or “top” in any market, especially the ideological market, but there are some signs that point me towards cautious optimism that the current inflation of woke idealization is reaching a peak. The recent trip of Vice President Kamala Harris to Central America was certainly a hoot, and not only because she was booed and given the “yanquí go home” treatment.  

Harris ventured south of the border—without a pause at the border—in an effort to address the “root causes” of illegal migration to the United States. Tasked by President Biden with fixing the problem of stopping some 30 million Latin Americans—and who knows how many hundreds of millions of others who would like to slip through our porous boundary with Mexico—from coming here, Kamala Harris embraced this role with the enthusiasm she might reserve for emptying his bedpan.  

And who could blame her? Central America has been a basket case for as long as anyone alive can remember. The hard Left is not wrong that the U.S. bears a lot of the blame for destroying the region, so why would we be trusted to fix it? And where does Kamala Harris, nobody’s idea of a foreign affairs expert, fit in?  

Tucker Carlson is correct that the Democrats were relying on Harris’s ethnicity to do most of the work of ensuring her trip would spread good vibes throughout the region. “People of color love people of color,” Carlson intoned facetiously, mocking the Left’s reductive approach to human affairs. Inherited skin pigmentation is a trump card in America today, so presumably it would work in Mestizo-land too. With her Jamaican-Indian heritage, she and the people of Guatemala are all members of the global Brown Community, after all. 

But Central Americans have met darker-skinned people before, and Harris’s various intersectional identities are only significant in the context of contemporary American cudgel politics. Her resentful response to Lester Holt pressing her on the question of a border visit—“I haven’t been to Europe, either!”—sounded high-handed and entitled, vaguely Antoinettish.  

So the bloom is off that rose, and the religion of identitarianism has taken a small hit. Maybe it is nothing, but it was impossible for the mass media to pretend—as they were clearly supposed to—that Kamala Harris is possessed of special powers by virtue of her ethnicity. This minor visible failure of the Diversitocracy may be the start of a trend.