To the White Men Running to Be the Democratic Presidential Candidate: Can You Not?
If you’re a man talking about ‘not me, but us,’ it’s time to step back and let us do our thing.
Warren already had a toddler when she entered law school before becoming pregnant with her second child, and going on to innovate the field of bankruptcy law that led to an entirely new federal agency, and eventually her bid for Senate. Instead of talking about that astounding feat and how it inspired her policies, Bernie hurled a bomb into the news cycle and my eyeballs are still bleeding.
But I completely lost it when Beto O’Rourke launched a video about why he’s also running for president featuring his smiling, voiceless, Stepford-esque—at least in that video—wife.
The video didn’t caption Amy O’Rourke by name, and Beto never even made reference to her. She literally said nothing while he babbled on for three-and-a-half minutes straight as only a man convinced of his own manifest destiny can. Hours later, he had the nerve to joke that, “she is raising, sometimes with my help,” their three kids. Hilarious! I love when women get to serve as accessories to their absentee husbands as they take road trips to discover America, and themselves (he later apologized for the remark, but the reality of their arrangement stands).
I have another idea for Bernie, Beto, and Joe Biden, who recently called the gay-hating, anti-abortion Mike Pence “a decent guy:” Don’t.
There are four highly qualified women running in the Democratic primary—across a range of ideologies and experience—but an influx of men have entered the mix without offering a clear rationale for themselves beyond that they can and want to run. That’s not to mention several pathetic hints that they’d make things right by adding one of those woman to the bottom of their ticket, sort of like Geraldine Ferraro, who made history as the first Democratic female nominee for vice president 35 years ago.
I voted proudly for Bernie in the 2016 Democratic primary, and defended him against charges of sexism. Now I can’t stand the sight of his name in my inbox proclaiming “not me, us,” if I’ll just chip in $3. This isn’t the improbable populist who stepped off the sidelines to wrest control of the Democratic Party from its centrist drift into corporate dependence. That man started a movement that produced shockwaves across the country, and in Congress with the election of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others.
There’s no substantive reason to run this time around with Warren in the field, but instead of helping his ideological twin become the first female president, he’s centering himself. “Not us, but me,” seems more accurate.
Beto, too, seems to think that one more white man would be the best way to address the shameful lack of gender and racial diversity in American politics. In a substance-free Vanity Fair profile announcing his run, he evinced a fleeting sense of self-awareness that his demographic is already over-represented. His solution? To pack his administration with women and people of color, because, “it’s the only way I know to meet that challenge.”
Think harder, bro, and maybe find a way to support a more qualified candidate like Stacy Abrams, who registered a record number of African-American voters, while serving as the first black woman minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives and eventually running for governor herself. Unlike Beto who lost his campaign for Senate against Ted Cruz by over 200,000 votes, the self- made Abrams actually held a lead until the election was stolen out from under her. Afterwards, she went back to work building democracy and he went on what Danielle Tcholakian called a “vision quest.” All of this amidst an avalanche of media attention furiously devoted to his future presidential prospects. I guess it’s not that surprising that a guy who coasted into El Paso politics thanks to his well-connected family can’t figure out a better way to advance others except to run for office himself.
As to Biden, who hasn’t even officially announced, can you not?
That’s the question a bunch of straight, white guys asked in 2016 when they created an eponymous PAC as a joke, challenging, “brogressives and others to reject any notion that they are uniquely qualified or positioned to seek political office.” Contrary to Beto’s claim that he was “born for this,” the PAC’s founders argue instead that, “as well-represented White dudes, we feel it is our obligation to know when to shut up and Not.” Apparently #notallwhiteguys though. On Monday, NPR’s Rachel Martin noted that the Democratic field is now full of candidates who sound an awful lot like Bernie Sanders. Putting the question to the 77-year-old senator straight, she asked: “So why do you need to run?” His response? “Well, maybe the more appropriate question is, 'Why do they need to run?’” Um, no dude that is not an answer. As if on cue, the campaign yesterday released a list of new hires, most of them women, which only made me more angry to see them tokenized as the power behind the throne.
This isn’t just about what some people dismiss as “identity politics.” It’s that these particular white men are benefiting from an unspoken, but implicit bias that a woman can’t win against Trump. Every time Governor Andrew Cuomo ambiguously refers to Biden “as the most credible” candidate, it’s just a stand in for “a guy that angry white men will relate to who’s not a shrill harpy obsessed with lady stuff.”
Make no mistake: Credibility is a scam and these guys think they can sell Democrats on themselves as the last indispensable man. They’re not.