You could say that almost everyone involved in politics pretends to be someone they are not. In some situations putting on a façade can make you more popular–or increase your appeal to a certain group of people. But those who engage in identity politics are starting to take that to the extreme.
Take Democratic gubernatorial candidate Kelda Roys, who reportedly pretended to be gay in order to appeal to attendees at a gay pride parade in Madison seven years ago. Roys was engaged in a campaign for Congress against Mark Pocan–who actually is gay. Roys reportedly told attendees that she and her “partner” had to go to Iowa to get married. The inference was that Roys was in a same-sex marriage, as that was recognized in Iowa at the time–but not here in Wisconsin. The only thing is, Roys is married to a man.
You can understand why Roys–in the surroundings of a gay pride event–may have decided to take on an alternate identity. In the world of identity politics, if you are gay, you are expected to vote for the gay candidate if there is one. To not do so would be “voting against your own self-interests”. Unfortunately for Roys, her opponent was gay (in a race to replace a lesbian member of Congress). So while she may have held all of the “correct” stances on issues related to the gay community, she just wasn’t “one of them”, so she tried to fake it–knowing that was the only way she could hope to get any support in that primary. By the way, Pocan apparently hasn’t forgotten that. When asked about it by reporters, he said Roys likely “regrets the comments she made”–and wouldn’t say that he finds her “honest and trustworthy”.
The Roys story comes out as the white woman that was pretending to be black in order to get scholarships and jobs–Rachel Dolezal, who now goes by the name Nkechi Diallo–was allegedly pretending to be poor too. Dolezal is charged with welfare fraud–accused of receiving housing assistance for two years, while failing to report 84-thousand dollars in income. I’m sure that she will claim that she is being targeted because of her “race”–and that a famous “white person” would never have been charged.
When you were a kid it was fun to pretend to be someone or something you were not. But as an adult–and especially one running for public office or assuming a “community leadership position”, it’s just embarrassing and patronizing.