The End Of Identity Politics?

Ruchira Paul takes me to task:

Repentant Bush supporter Andrew Sullivan is deliriously happy at the prospect of a possible Obama presidency which he believes will end identity politics in America. I think his optimism is premature in this regard. People are good at compartmentalizing opposing public and personal views and not recognizing their own hypocrisies.

Those of us who grew up in countries where rigid identity politics (religion, caste, gender) is the norm, know that sometimes voters can indeed eschew prejudice in politics without revising broader cultural attitudes. Just because a male chauvinist votes for a female head of state or a casteist elects a candidate from a lower caste, doesn’t mean the end of other personal predilections. Think Indira Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto and the status of the majority of women in India and Pakistan. In these turbulent times, out of self interest, a white racist may very well vote for a black candidate who appears to be more competent than his opponent. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the US is going to be transformed into a cheerful Rainbow Coalition if Senator Obama becomes president. In any case, we don’t for sure know who will be the winner next Tuesday. We have to wait and see if Obama will become the victim of the Bradley effect or the beneficiary of the pragmatist racist vote.