Transgender Candidate's Virginia Win Puts Identity Politics Before Policy

ola olugbemi | November 8, 2017
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Danica Roem, a 33-year old former journalist, just ousted incumbent Bob Marshall from his District 13 seat in the Virginia House of Delegates, becoming the first openly transgender person to win a U.S. statehouse election.

The news media has focused primarily on Roem’s gender identity, and unsurprisingly so, as it stood in stark contrast to Marshall’s openly traditional policies that he championed during his time in public office and on the campaign trail.

But post-election media coverage has focused primarily on Roem as a transgender female rather than his platform, begging some serious questions about the prominence of identity politics over actual policies.

Have we come to a place in our society where superficial characteristics, such as gender, skin-color, or the amount of money a person has or can raise, solely determines who our future leaders will be? Have we abandoned careful examination of a person’s ideas in favor of what they look like or how they identify themselves?

It certainly seems so.

According to the Washington Post, Roem described the perfect example of identity politics after it was clear that he had won the election:

Discrimination is a disqualifier. This is about the people of the 13th District disregarding fear tactics, disregarding phobias . . . where we celebrate you because of who you are, not despite it.

And why should we celebrate who Roem is, as opposed to Marshall? Should one’s identity even be celebrated at all for the sake of supposed “equality?” It just doesn’t add up.

Admittedly, Marshall appears guilty of similar identity based politics, as the Washington Post reported that he refused to debate Roem seemingly due to Roem being transgender.

Regardless of who does it, it seems clear that promoting identity politics has grown more popular in America’s election process. One Roem voter, John Coughlin, put it this way:

It’s kind of like Barack [Obama] winning the presidential election. I’m really proud of Virginia. I don’t care about religious issues. I don’t care about items that are big on his agenda. He should be more mainstream.

It appears to me that being "mainstream" means promoting the quantity of a thing without regard or debate concerning its quality. 

Count me out. 

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