The hits keep on coming within the progressive ranks of the Democratic Party, and it is only going to get worse. We are witnessing the opening salvos in a battle that will play itself out again and again as the official primary season approaches. For when you define yourself by the suffocating worldview of identity politics, even supposed friends are seen as an existential threat.
The latest craziness comes via an op-ed by CNN “senior political reporter” Nia-Malika Henderson, who mercilessly mocks presumed presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke’s ballyhooed road trip through the American Southwest as an “excellent adventure” that “drips with white male privilege.”
CNN’s Poison Pen
Slamming the clueless white male conservative is of course de rigueur at CNN, but O’Rourke is supposed to be the popular liberal Dem of the moment. Despite this, Henderson addresses him with a venom usually reserved for the most reviled of right-wingers.
“Jack Kerouac-style, he roams around, jobless (does he not need a job?) to find himself and figure out if he wants to lead the free world,” Henderson writes with a palpable sense of bitterness. “This is a luxury no woman or even minority in politics could ever have.”
“But O’Rourke, tall, handsome, white and male, has this latitude, to be and do anything. His privilege even allows him to turn a loss to the most despised candidate of the cycle [Ted Cruz] into a launching pad for a White House run.”
She closes by acidly asserting that “the fact that he knows he has the freedom to cast about as a campaign-in-waiting forms, shows how much of his political identity is predicated on being white and male.”
The harshness of Henderson’s writing goes far beyond the personal and can be regarded as exhibiting a tribalistic antipathy for white males. One wonders how O’Rourke will combat this line of attack if it continues, as it undoubtedly will, as he ponders his 2020 plans. He already displayed in his failed 2018 challenge to Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) that he understands his unfortunate status as a white male is the new original sin in progressive politics.
“What I do know is that as a white man in this country, there is a privilege that I enjoy that many African-American men and women do not,” O’Rourke warbled in a debate against Cruz during the campaign. Alas, Henderson’s diatribe proves that mere genuflection to identity politics tropes will not be enough for white male Dem candidates next time around.
When a preposterously early poll came out in December that placed former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and O’Rourke at the top of a race that hasn’t even started, many Democrats were horrified.
“It’s almost like we’re moving backwards,” a Democratic strategist told The Hill. “We elected a black president in 2008 and 2012, we nominated a woman in 2016, so why are we now back with three white men at the top of the polls?”
This phobia over a potential white male candidate hardly puts the party in good stead for a serious run at an Electoral College defeat of President Trump. By categorically ruling out a white male candidate on principle, Dems would alienate an overwhelming chunk of the flyover country that they lost so badly in 2016. How can they vow “no white males” and then proceed to say “white males please vote for us” come the general election? Yet, as The Guardian’s David Smith aptly pointed out, winning doesn’t seem to be progressives’ top priority. Smith cited an online poll by leftist activist group MoveOn that the organization says has garnered tens of thousands of votes. Smith writes:
“MoveOn also asks members: ‘What’s most important to you in a candidate?’ The first option on the list is: ‘Is a woman.’ The second is: ‘Is a person of color.’ The eighth and last is: ‘Has the greatest chance of winning against Trump.'”
That should say it all right there. The poll allows respondents to choose up to three selections. Instead of choosing some variation of “beat Trump” three times, a disturbing number of progressives will no doubt be selecting such choice options as “[p]rioritizes reversing Trump’s hate-fueled, xenophobic, anti-Muslim, and racist policies that put communities–including immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQ, amongst others–at risk” and “[m]akes the connections between racial, social, and economic injustice, and commits to platform positions to see these connections through.”
Good luck winning the heartland with that agenda, folks. On the plus side, San Francisco should remain a mortal lock.
Bernie Sanders visibly allowed himself to be pushed around by rude and aggressive Black Lives Matter activists during the last presidential election. He even permitted them to hijack his stump speech. Based on the vitriol already being lashed about, it should be quite interesting to see just how far white male Democrats will be willing to demean themselves on the altar of identity politics in the pursuit of their 2020 dreams.