‘electable’

It seems as if Michael Bloomberg is throwing his hat into the ring to become the 2020 Democratic candidate. This is coming after a lot of hang wringing about the candidacy of Joe Biden and this idea about ‘electability’ that just will not die. The Liberal media is concerned that even in the face of poll after poll showing that all of the top five candidates can beat Donald Trump in a general election – that Democrats should choose someone whose heterosexual, white, older, maleness will be more palatable to mythical ‘swing’ voters. There is a lot that bugs me about this idea, but I want to start with my observation of the race so far.

In the beginning, there were 20+ candidates, and the new regulations on how to get to the debate stages were a combination of the number of individual donors and each candidate holding a certain percentage of points across a number of polls. Joe Biden entered the race and remains in most polls as the front runner – not because of his policies or his performance or even (I would argue) because of his white, maleness, but because of the African American support for his connection to the first African American president. Name recognition and Obama-recognition. Bernie and Warren are wild, leftist progressives. They are older, but they have the strongest social media game, and their policy proposals and politics are attractive to those of us in the Twitter-sphere set.

Then, numbers four and five are a BLACK woman and an openly gay, young, white man. Kamala Harris was edged out by Pete Buttigieg only recently. I want us to take a deep breath and recognize that a Black woman held the number four spot for months and is still going strong.  As people drop out, the rest of the top ten include – a black man (Booker), an Asian man (Yang), a Latinx man (Castro), and two more women (Gabbard & Klobuchar)! This is a diverse, qualified and articulate collection of people.

The diversity of identity as well as ideology makes me wonder why we keep panicking and thinking the answer is to throw in a “moderate” white man with whom everyone can feel comfortable into the mix. To me, the diversity means that we are ready for something that reflects the Democratic party.  Many white, male and/or moderates enter the race with a focus on winning over or winning back Donald Trump’s base. Almost all of them have dropped out of the race and the rest have not made the top ten. We need to rethink this idea of electability.

We may not win working-class white votes in swing states or win over the Trump base, with someone who represents diversity and/or progressive politics; however, I know we will lose the election, if we don’t excite and energize our own base – a broad coalition primarily made up of young adults, working class people, women of color, suburban moms who are tired of gun violence and Betsy DeVos and the rest of Trump’s out-of-touch administration.

Joe Biden is fine. His set up as the presumptive best candidate is shifting as people get to know the others. And, that is okay. People are becoming undecided as they move beyond name recognition and into substance. This does not denote a crisis or mean that we need to beat back the bushes looking for other, more suitable candidates to get in the race at the 11th hour. That idea seems insulting and ever so racist/sexist/homophobic (i.e. – of course no one besides Biden can beat Trump) – and ever so offensive to “Uncle Joe”.

The good news is that our broad coalition makes up a majority of the country. The reason Republicans work so hard to suppress our votes is because they know when there is a large Democratic turnout, we win! We will vote and we will decide who we want as our candidate. Then, whoever wins, we need to put all of our energy into getting our folks behind that person.

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