Fudge to Pelosi: I’ll see your gender and raise you my race

Yesterday, in a post about the opposition to Nancy Pelosi’s bid to become House Speaker, I noted that, thus far, no one has stepped forward to run against Pelosi. You can’t beat somebody with nobody.

I added that if somebody emerges to oppose Pelosi, it had better be a woman. Otherwise, Pelosi and her backers are sure to play the gender card, and the new House members who are resisting the former Speaker, many of whom are females who themselves played that card during the election, will probably cave.

Now, a potential opponent has emerged — Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio. Not only is Fudge a woman, she’s African-American.

Fudge hasn’t formally entered the race, but she’s already playing the race card. She told the Washington Post, “if we’re going to have a diverse party, it ought to look like the party.” Try parsing that gibberish.

We know what she’s getting at, though: “Support for me because I’m Black.”

Pelosi can’t “see” Fudge on race, but she has played another identity politics card. Her team is emphasizing that Fudge refused to sponsor something called The Equality Act.

That legislation would have provided federal civil rights protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. Fudge claims she would have supported the conferral of such protections in a stand alone bill, but didn’t want it included in a more general civil rights bill.

I’m not certain what was going on here, but Fudge’s position might have reflected the ambivalence of many African-Americans regarding gay rights issues. At a minimum, it probably reflects resentment of the idea that gay rights are on the same plane as traditional civil rights for African-Americans.

What heresy!

I’m not sure how seriously to take a potential bid by Fudge for the Speakership. Pelosi has some support withing the congressional black caucus and Fudge’s opposition, for whatever reason, to pro-gay rights legislation might be a deal-breaker for many of those insurgent Democratic members.

In any event, Pelosi’s struggle within her caucus, and the fact that it’s being played out so blatently in identity politics terms, is a sign of trouble for Democrats down the road. As Steve likes to say, “pass the popcorn.”

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