This is the lovely argument that’s brewing up over Pete Buttigieg’s – it’s a Maltese name meaning “keeper of chickens” apparently – entry into the race of the Democratic nomination for the Presidency. He appears pretty clever at least, several languages, was a Rhodes scholar and all that. Seems to have done well as a Mayor in a deep red state. Sounds good. But to some extent the Democratic Party is the coalition of all those oppressed by the patriarchal white capitalism that so infests this modern world. So, being a white guy doesn’t really cut it. Or at least, being a straight white guy doesn’t.
That it’s this capitalist patriarchy – much of it white – that created this modern world where we can all enjoy the luxury of worrying about gender, sexuality and so on, instead of just frantically wondering where the next meal is coming from, is true but noting it is thought of as a bit rude really.
So, to be a representative, leader perhaps, of that coalition of the oppressed it helps if you’re one of the oppressed. Joe Biden’s not going to make it as he certainly doesn’t qualify, not unless being not all that bright is to be oppressed these days. Which brings is to Pete Buttigieg. He’s gay, with a husband and all that. Which in small town America even a decade back would have been not only weird but illegal. Which brings us to an interesting commentary upon how America has changed. For one current argument is that Buttigieg’s not actually oppressed enough to be a representative, leader, of that coalition:
Yet some liberal voices are now discounting Buttigieg’s sexual orientation (“still a white man”), or at least diminishing the historic discrimination gays have faced as compared with women and people of color (“most of the time gender and race are way heavier burdens than sexual orientation in the professional and political environment,” and “there was a time when it was illegal for us to marry interracially, women and POC could not even own property but a gay white man could”). For those critics, his race and gender negate the little credit they accord him for being gay. All of this seems like an attempt to write Buttigieg off as “just another white guy,” standing in the way of more diverse candidates. It’s the Oppression Olympics at its worst: In a battle to prove that one community is more discriminated against than another, we tear each other apart rather than unite in common cause.
Yes, lots of fun as the left, once again, eats its own. But there is a useful point we can make here.
So, the argument is that it should be a woman, a Latino perhaps, another black but this time an actually American one maybe. Someone who really does face that institutionalised discrimination which so oppresses. Gay just aren’t so oppressed any more. Which is a rather good commentary upon modern America isn’t it? Gays aren’t so oppressed any more? We’re good to go then, defeated homophobia, attained equal rights and can now drop the whole idea that how we desire our sexual jollies – OK, to be serious, who we love – is a political issue any more?
Actually, that would just be to return to the days of yore. No one worried about it because no one spoke of it so it didn’t in fact matter. One of the very early Governors of New York State used to open proceedings in drag is an interesting tidbit too. But leave all that aside.
The insistence here is that gays aren’t oppressed any more. Buttigieg’s not got that being punched down societal position which it is necessary the D candidate should have. OK, super, the gay rights movement won then. As it should have done. But we are done, right? Equality, non-oppression, has been achieved and that’s a problem we don’t have to worry about any more?
Which is great news even as it’s going to piss off an awfully large number of campaigners who are now going to have to find something else to shout about. And when the feminist wing of the Democratic party finds out that men and women are paid the same amount for the same job, that modern women are in fact the richest, freest and most equal generation that has ever lived, there’s going to be some more job searching, isn’t there?