This is how Democrats will ensure Trump's reelection

This is how Democrats will ensure Trump's reelection
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The Democratic Party has mounted a concerted, years-long crusade to close the gender wage “gap.” In much the same vein, many Democrats have embraced “identity” politics. Further prioritizing these two issues, however, will all but usher in Donald Trump’s re-election.

The existence of a gender wage gap in the United States – amounting to roughly 80 cents on the dollar – is beyond dispute. The rub, however, lies in the details. Too many prominent Democrats would have voters believe that the gender wage gap is due to widespread, systemic discrimination against women in the workplace. But the data do not back up such assertions. Perhaps more importantly, the right-wing media machine feasts on this misguided discrimination message, all to the GOP’s electoral advantage.

For starters, young, childless women, on average, earn more than their male counterparts. Full stop. That young women earn higher salaries should hardly be surprising; education is the key to a bigger paycheck and women significantly outnumber men on U.S. college campuses.

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Since this all-important counterpoint to the “discrimination-against-women-in-the-workplace” narrative has not been well-publicized, it bears repeating: There is a reverse gender pay gap among young workers in the United States. This is true in the United Kingdom as well.

As women reach their late 20s and early 30s, a motherhood or childcare “penalty” begins to take effect. After women have children, many work fewer hours and some – importantly – drop out of the workforce entirely. The majority of the gender wage gap is due to the statistical impact of women reducing their workload or leaving the workforce to raise families. This phenomenon is perhaps best illustrated in Denmark, where one of the most progressive societies in the world sports a gender wage gap similar to that of the United States.

Other factors, such as choice of college major (men are more than twice as likely to choose higher-paying STEM fields than women) and gender-based differences in salary negotiation round out the overwhelming majority of the gender wage gap.

These nuances beg for sensible, genuinely progressive policy proposals. Gender-equitable family leave, for one, comes to mind. But the factors outlined above are not indicative of widespread discrimination against women in the workplace. Continuing to force this incorrect diagnosis of the gender wage gap provides limitless fodder for right-wing media to hammer the Democrats as the 2020 election contest ramps up.

Beyond the gender wage gap, the rise of “identity” politics has electrified the Republican base. At their worst, identity politics hold that one’s association with a group (based, for example, on gender, race or sexual orientation) supersedes and supplants their attributes as an individual (or as an American). This trend has arisen largely as an attempt to rationalize various forms of inequality, often in terms of an “oppression” or “victimhood” narrative. Of particular note, gender-based identity politics are frequently couched in the (largely unfounded) “discrimination” diagnosis of the gender wage gap discussed above.

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President Obama, Senator Bernie Sanders, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Andrew Yang have all spoken out about the singularly divisive effects of identity politics. In rejecting this electorally disastrous brand of politicking, they are all undoubtedly cognizant of the critical role that left-wing identity politics played in Donald Trump’s ascent to the presidency. While President TrumpDonald John TrumpFlorida GOP lawmaker says he's 'thinking' about impeachment Democrats introduce 'THUG Act' to block funding for G-7 at Trump resort Kurdish group PKK pens open letter rebuking Trump's comparison to ISIS MORE peddles his own brand of identity politics, he has cleverly marketed himself as the anti-“political correctness” candidate, a lone counter-voice to the self-defeating excesses of the Democratic Party.

Critically, identity politics run amok have alienated the voters who decide presidential elections in the United States. Worse yet, far too many on the left broadly label Trump voters as irredeemable racists not worthy of coaxing to the ballot box. Of the Democrats’ many strategic blunders, continuing down such a path will prove particularly destructive.

If Democrats are serious about defeating Donald Trump in 2020, they would be wise to avoid elevating identity politics and the gender wage gap into party priorities. When Democrats start talking about these issues, the voters they need on their side immediately stop listening or, worse, are alienated further.

Those painting Trump voters as racial bigots would be wise to remember that Obama-Trump swing voters accounted for more than two-thirds (roughly 70 percent) of the reason that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonState cites 38 people for violations in Clinton email review Trump campaign to hold rallies in Mississippi, Kentucky Biden struggles to reverse fall MORE lost the 2016 election.

In short, tarring this critical bloc of Americans in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin who voted for Obama as abominable racists is not only nonsensical. It is a recipe for electoral catastrophe in 2020.

Marik von Rennenkampff served as an analyst with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, as well as an Obama administration appointee at the U.S. Department of Defense.