Identity Politics and the Biden Administration
With the recent inauguration of President Biden, the conversation surrounding identity politics has “circled back” into the news cycle—particularly for women. The Biden Administration has nominated a record number of females for high-level positions. Alongside America’s first female Vice President Kamala Harris, these nominees include Janet Yellen, as Secretary of the Treasury; Governor Gina Raimondo, as Secretary of Commerce; Avril Haines, as Director of National Intelligence; and Rep. Deb Haaland, as Secretary of the Interior.
It would be a disservice to say that none of these women are qualified, as many of them are; however, the fact that they are female seems to be the more important detail to the Left. During the Game Stop and Robinhood controversy, Press Secretary Jen Psaki was quick to point out that the Biden Administration has, “the first female treasury secretary,” instead of offering any insight as to how the Administration would respond to the situation. Rather than mentioning Secretary Yellen’s many qualifications and successful career, Psaki simply pointed out that there is a female in the position.
What Was Affirmative Action Meant To Do?
Since it was first mentioned by President John F. Kennedy in an Executive Order in 1961, affirmative action originally set out to provide support to people of every “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” As the policy has progressed, however, it has become more restrictive for employers and increasingly arbitrary. In most cases, affirmative action simply requires employers to hire a specific percentage of various minorities without any regard to geographical data, demand within their respective fields, or even personal choice.
In today’s world, a woman is hired to meet a percentage requirement—not because she is actually the perfect candidate for a job.
But women and minorities should see these policies for what they are: demeaning and, in truth, discriminatory. Many of the policies assume that the individuals would not be able to achieve certain positions without the help of the government.
The Harm of Identity Politics
It is important to understand the dangers of simply choosing someone for the identity boxes they check off instead of their ability to do the job well. At colleges across the nation, objective acceptance standards, including GPA and ACT or SAT test scores, are seemingly lowered for women and students of color by giving additional weight to more subjective demographic factors. Correlation does not equal causation, but what we see is this: twice the dropout rate for African-American students compared to white students and appearance in the lower percentile among peers.
The same is true when gender is prioritized over qualification. California passed a law requiring quotas of women on executive boards of public corporations in an attempt to combat sexism. If a company can’t meet the requirements, they are fined. These quotas do not account for the career preferences of women, the work of the company, or even a history of bias in the company. It is blanket legislation that does nothing to end sexism and implies that women would not otherwise qualify for or be hired for such positions.
Haley Supergan is a member of the Steamboat Institute’s Emerging Leader’s Council. She works for the Network of Enlightened Women.