Tag Archives: activist

The Power-Effect of the Single-Issue Voter

Well, to continue with the post-modern discussion around here…Please consider this a thought experiment (and, like any experiment, it could be horribly wrong from the get-go).  I want to bring up a subject that hopefully will garner a good deal of debate.  I want to talk about single-issue voters.  But I want to do it by first recasting the terms of the debate – ie, by changing the focus from judging what such a voter is to what such a voter does (the latter of which of course can’t be done without first addressing the former) .   

The whole idea of identities first requires a bit of unpacking, because identities are tricky things.  They’re constantly in flux.  You have a million different identities that exist as they are evoked by contrast – you are a liberal in relation to conservatives.  You are a subordinate in relation to your boss, and a boss to the others operating beneath you.  You define yourself by a sense of othering, by negation, telling who you are by telling who you are not, and the way you do this changes with each context. 

And why do you do this?  Why does it matter who you are?  Each categorical identification has a different strategic advantage in its power effects.  This means that people treat you differently depending on how you present your identity at a specific place and time, and they allow you to treat them differently as they best respond to you in order to maximize their strategic advantage.  The important thing isn’t what your identity is, rather what it does.

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