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“Tokenism” is the practice of choosing people for roles based on superficial qualities rather than intrinsic worthiness for the positions. Because it prioritizes identity over merit, it risks placing less qualified, underperforming individuals in positions of responsibility.
We have a particularly glaring example of tokenism in our current Vice President, Kamala Harris.
Then-candidate Biden announced in August of 2019 that he would “prefer” “someone who was of color and/or a different gender,” for his running mate, should he get the nomination. He claimed at the time that this wouldn’t be his primary consideration, and that the most important consideration would be that he choose someone who was “authentic and on the same page.”
He then chose a running mate who, as was obvious then even to Democrat voters who dumped her from the Presidential primaries as fast as they could, has nothing to recommend her save her sex and pigmentation. But that was enough: she ticked the two boxes guaranteed to get Joe a much-needed pat on the back from the left fringe of his party. She’s the first woman Vice President, and the first black Vice President, and a truly terrible Vice President.
Extraordinary people come in both sexes and all colors. One extraordinary black woman is currently the director of the Hoover Institution at Stanford. Another extraordinary black woman is an outspoken champion of women and their rights, a brave and tireless critic of Islamic oppression of women, and the founder of a foundation dedicated to those ends.
Unfortunately, the woman the Biden campaign chose is entirely bereft of qualification — even of the meager qualification of bland avuncular inconsequence that, with the assist of some rapidly-reinvented election laws, ushered President Biden into the Oval Office.
Vice President Harris’s cackling incompetence should not reflect on women in general, nor on black people of either sex — any more than President Biden’s shuffling incompetence, corruption, and encroaching senility is representative of men in general or of white people of either sex. It reflects only on the Vice President and the irresponsible people who put her one tired heartbeat away from the most powerful seat on the planet.
But the problem with tokenism — beyond tending to place people in positions for which they’re poorly suited — is that it achieves the opposite of the outcome its practitioners claim they want. Rather than furthering the interests of whichever demographic to which they’ve chosen to pander, it undermines — unfairly — individuals of that demographic. The next black woman to seek the Presidency or Vice Presidency will have to overcome the stain of the current one. There’s no justice in that, merely reality.
Tokenism is one of the most insidious and destructive aspects of identity politics. It rarely has the potential to be as catastrophic as a President Harris could be. Usually it merely hurts the institutions and individuals and identity groups involved. But the left’s obsession with tokenism and identity, and its relentless war against merit, will drag us all down — and most particularly those it claims to be helping.Published in