Republicans and the one-drop rule, or “He’s too moderate!”

So, scholars of social identity and oppression have long known that the boundaries of and membership in privileged groups is incredibly tightly controlled. Gay men aren’t fully or properly masculine, just as those with even one drop of non-white blood aren’t really white. (Hypodescent, aka “the one drop rule”, was a former US law which dictated that anyone with “one drop” – i.e., 1/64th – of black blood was legally black). Similarly, women aren’t generally punished for acting somewhat masculine, but men are severely punished (via teasing, disapproval, violence even) for acting even a bit feminine. Privileged groups are interested in maintaining rigorous purity among their ranks.

So, this makes the Cheney/Rove/Limbaugh (notably, all white straight dudes, as far as we know) wing of the GOP’s approach to party identity and ideology reeeeally interesting. As the NYT article discusses, Cheney et al are trying to purge the moderate likes of Colin Powell out of the GOP. Read more here:

Anyway, it seems like Cheney/Rove/Limbaugh et al are trying to fashion the identity of the Republican party in the same terms that priviliged social identities like heteromasculinity and whiteness are formed. Republicans with even one drop of moderate blood aren’t “real” Republicans. In this model, the GOP can include only those who are most ideologically pure.

Now, I’m not going to make any causal claims here. I don’t think we can say whether or not it is because the leaders of this extremely right wing of the party are (as far as we know) straight white dudes that they’re adopting this model of group identity. We can’t say that they’re explicitly modeling GOP identity on white or heteromasculine identity — in fact, they probably aren’t even consciously aware of hypodescent or normative masculinity as such. However, we can speculate about the correlation, and wonder if this sort of purity in group identity is appealing to white males b/c it aligns wiht how they experience their own identities.