Identity politics are never pretty. Often, they're just plain insulting to voters.

But they're in full play again in the Maryland U.S. Senate race where Rep. Donna Edwards, a Democrat, is leaning a bit too heavily on her status as a progressive, who happens to be black, and a lawyer who did the tough slog of single motherhood. Ms. Edwards' life story is compelling, and her bio puts in a good position to do things for her constituents.


Trouble is, so far, she's fallen well short of her promise ("Donna Edwards hits Chris Van Hollen in Maryland Senate ad," April 5).

Her record — lined up side-by-side with that of her opponent, Rep. Chris Van Hollen — shows she's not exactly been a stellar legislator or even a collaborative one. Since joining the House in 2009, Ms. Edwards rarely introduced legislation, nor has she shown an inclination to cross the aisle to work with Republicans to push her agenda.

So, faced with a slim list of congressional achievements after eight years on the Hill, she is instead walked the low road. In debates and attack ads, she's disparaged her opponent as some kind of privileged white elitist who's done nothing more with his life than to serve the public.

Maryland voters of all stripes are savvy enough to see through this thin veil for what it is.

Truth be told, Mr. Van Hollen's been doing the unglamorous grunt work of democracy for years. In the process, he's served Maryland voters regardless of class, color or creed.

No constituent issue is too petty for a response. In fact, constituents who were gerrymandered into Ms. Edwards' district in Maryland often feel compelled to call his office to get a response.

To say he's not an advocate of common sense gun control is to obscure the fact that Mr. Van Hollen took the pain of a constituent's loss to fashion tougher national gun legislation. And he's legendary for his congenial ability to work across the aisle to craft creative compromises that don't sell out the left. Perhaps I'm a delusional minority in Maryland, but don't we all want a less dysfunctional Congress?

As a feminist and admirer of Gloria Steinem, it was very uncomfortable for me to hear and see her and Secretary Madeleine Albright hectoring younger women voters in New Hampshire to support Hillary Clinton solely because of her gender.

This appeal was demeaning and insulting to the intelligence of young women (and men). Similarly, Ms. Edwards' playing the race card in Maryland insults black voters. They know Congressman Van Hollen has had their backs for years.

Joan McQueeney, Kensington