Why is rich John Edwards a "phoney" for claiming to care about the poor when FDR who was rich wasn't? Glenn Reynolds says the answer is identity politics.
Well, John Edwards is no FDR. But the answer to Krugman's complaint is found in the post 1960s political zeitgeist. Back before identity politics, and the notion that "the personal is political," the idea of a rich guy representing poor people was entirely plausible. He could be rich, but still have ideas about poverty, and care about them. But now that we have identity politics and the like, that's impossible: If only a woman can represent women, only a black person can represent blacks, etc. -- Barbara Boxer even suggested that Condi Rice couldn't understand mothers because she was childless -- then obviously only a poor person can represent poor people. And since there are no poor people in American political office, poor people perforce go unrepresented. Thus, the "progressive" causes of identity politics and personalization mean that the progressives' key clients can't get "authentic" representation. This is probably bad for the country, but it's certainly a bed that the progressives have made for themselves.
The other problem with identity politics is that not everybody can join. Hirsi Ali can never be representative of women who grew up in Islamic countries nor can Michelle Malkin be anything but a "renegade". Identity politics is really all about a certain concept of identity. But I think the whole concept of identity politics is older than the 60s. In the 1930s it was all the rage to have "sectoral" representatives for women, youth, ethnic minorities, in all those old Soviet or Nazi state organs. Some of these may ring a bell.
HJ -- Hitler Youth (Hitlerjugend)
NS Women's Organization (Frauenschaft)
NS German Students' Bund (Deutscher Studentenbund)
NS University Teachers' Bund (Deutscher Dozentenbund)
DAF -- German Labor Front (Deutsche Arbeitsfront)
NS Public Welfare Organization (Volkswohlfahrt)
NS War Victims' Organization (Kregsopferversorgung)
NS Bund for German Technology (Bund Deutscher Technik)
German Civil Service (Reichsbund der Deutschen Beamten)
NS Physicians' Bund (Deutscher Aerztebund)
NS Teachers' Bund (Lehrerbund)
NS League of Legal Officials (Rechtswahrerbund)
Then as now, you had to have certain political attitudes to properly represent your sector in that era. Members of the White Rose underground resistance may have been young but not the Hitlerjungend kind of young.