Identity politics and 2020

I am not a political expert, and somehow I just can’t get deeply involved in a race for President when the election won’t take place for a year and a half.  But I do know three things:

1.) We have to get a Democrat into the White House, and that means defeating Trump. Unless he’s impeached, that is, and then we have to replace Pence.

2.) I am not excited about any of the Democratic candidates so far. Perhaps I’m just old and tired, but nobody has yet risen from the pack who excites me as much as, say, Obama did.

3.) I’ll be voting Democratic, as usual. Republicans by and large are an odious bunch with repugnant policies, and Trump doesn’t deserve to be dogcatcher, much less President. If we can get a Democratic President, House, and maybe even the Senate, then maybe we can get things done.

I’ve also been worried about whether identity politics, which is a large aspect of the schism between mainstream and progressive Democrats, could hurt the Democrats in 2020. By this I don’t just mean the squabblings and missteps of the so-called “progressives”, many of whom I find self-centered and wedded more to getting attention than getting stuff done, but also the constant emphasis on getting an affirmative-action President who is not an old white male. Such a “minority President” could, many say, turn off middle America and turn them toward Trump.

All things equal, I would prefer a woman President, as it’s time to break the lock on the nation’s highest office, but selecting a President solely or largely on the grounds that they have two X chromosomes may be a losing strategy. I don’t think it helped Hillary Clinton for her supporters to bruit about the notion that “it’s her turn”, and it surely didn’t help her to demonize Republicans as a “basket of deplorables.”

And so the dilemma raised in today’s New York Times piece (click on screenshot): should we even consider sex or ethnicity when deciding which Democrat to support, or do we simply go for the candidate who is a.) most likely to defeat Trump and b.) has the best policies?  Ideally, we’d find a candidate who appeals to all Democrats, and there’s no reason why a non-white-male President couldn’t have the best platform as well. It would be a shame, for instance, if the Democrats would lose just because their candidate was a woman, but I can’t see myself saying, “We can’t support candidate X because she’s a woman and she can’t win.” On the other hand, I can’t see myself saying “We can’t support candidate Y (a white male) because he doesn’t represent the face of America, and Old White Men are passé.”

As I said, I’m not excited about any Democrat right now, but it’s early days.

In general, the article is pretty even-handed in describing and quoting people who favor best policies versus those who demand a minority/woman candidate regardless of their electability:

Interviews with several dozen Democratic voters around the country show how the party, which enjoyed victories in 2018 that were powered by female and nonwhite candidates, is now grappling with two complicated questions about race, gender and politics in the Trump era.

Is a white man the best face for an increasingly diverse Democratic Party in 2020? And what’s the bigger gamble: to nominate a white man and risk disappointing some of the party’s base, or nominate a minority candidate or a woman who might struggle to carry predominantly white swing states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania that both Barack Obama and President Trump won?

But the Times does seem to tip its hand in one place:

White men have largely ruled both the Democratic and Republican parties throughout American history, even as they have declined to roughly 30 percent of the population, and many voters still have preconceptions of presidents as white and male. Mr. Biden and Mr. Sanders are starting off with other advantages as well: They are the best-known candidates at this stage, both with experience running for president, and they are well positioned to have the money and resources to compete through the 2020 primaries.

But as older white men, they are out of step with ascendant forces in the party today.

Women, minorities and young people are fueling much of its energy, and they are well represented by multiple well-qualified, politically savvy female and nonwhite Democrats who are running. Ms. Harris in particular has had a strong start in fund-raising, and only Mr. Biden and Mr. Sanders consistently outpace her in polls.

I’m not sure if Biden and Sanders are markedly inferior to younger or female candidates, and being “out of step with ascendant forces in the party today”—if that means aligning with all the views of people like Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—might not be a bad thing.  After all, the “ascendant forces” are not in the majority, though some of their views, like taking climate change seriously, is something that needs to be part of a Democratic push.

One thing that Grania pointed out to me is that if one looks at the readers’ comments on this article, you can see, as she said, that “the responses by Democratic voters show that they are fed up to the back teeth with identity politics.” Here are a few of the top “Times Pick” comments, which seem to have risen to the top because they get more recommendations from other readers. I’m going to give the top ten comments in descending order without selecting any. Only comments #2 and #10 are dissents:

So there you have it. I request that you address these questions below:

a. Are identity politics among Democrats going to hurt us in 2020?


b. Who (if any) among the declared Democratic candidates excites you?


h/t: Grania


  1. Posted April 21, 2019 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    I share your concern, Jerry. Too many of my generation – black, white, male, female, gay, straight, and other – fought too long and hard against judging people or voting for people based on generalizations about skin color or sex organs for us to start doing it now, even if those who encourage us to do so call themselves “progressives” instead of “conservatives” (as they were called in the 1960s). I voted for Obama with gusto because he was a great person for the job (and, oddly enough, less shackled by identity politics and more committed to representing us as a unified body politic than all these subsequent Dem candidates).

    • BJ
      Posted April 21, 2019 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      Yes, it would be nice if we could get someone who would actually like to bring the country together again.

    • Posted April 21, 2019 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      …Obama … was … less shackled by identity politics and more committed to representing us as a unified body politic than all these subsequent Dem candidates.

      I’d read about parallel universes; now I know they exist.

      • Posted April 27, 2019 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

        I live in that universe also. Matt, perhaps you are the one in the “other” universe.

        • Posted April 27, 2019 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

          In mine, there was ‘bros before hos’, bitter-clingers, goddamn AmeriKKKa, and black HRC delegates called ‘Uncle Toms’.

  2. notsecurelyanchored
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    a. YES
    b. No one

    What I am looking for in a candidate, no matter the party, is maturity and sanity. I’m not seeing a lot of either, in either party.

    • KW
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 9:39 am | Permalink

      That is my answer.

      Biden seems like a decent man, and moderate enough to appeal. But he is a poor campaigner.

      • KW
        Posted April 22, 2019 at 9:41 am | Permalink

        You have violated your own roolz, specifically rule 2. This is how you treat disagreements?
        Goodbye, I only debate the honest.

        • Posted April 22, 2019 at 9:46 am | Permalink

          I have no idea what you’re talking about. But people of your splenetic nature always flounce in the end. Don’t let the door hit you on the tuchas!

  3. SweetPeavey
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    I’ve been unenthused so far too, but I have to say that the BootyJudge is starting to really impress me, he seems to be everything that Trump isn’t, but that could be early hype

    • Posted April 21, 2019 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      He certainly is very intelligent, principled and eloquent. I like him too.

  4. Posted April 21, 2019 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    a. MAYBE
    b. I plan on being ‘excited’ by anyone who can win the nomination. (Except the one billionaire who jumped into the race early and whose name I’ve already forgotten.)

    • yazikus
      Posted April 21, 2019 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      Howard Schultz? Yeah, I don’t know what he was thinking with that bid.

      • Posted April 21, 2019 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

        I do – that was ego all the way. (e.g. the I’m successful, I know what to do bubble)

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted April 21, 2019 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

        Let’s leave him at “Howard who?”

        Donald Trump is the only president (since such stats have been kept) never once to have an approval rating above 50% (or a disapproval rating below that number). His approval numbers have been remarkably (and unprecedentedly) consistent at between 37 and 44%.

        According to recent polls, half the electorate says it will not vote for Trump under any circumstances (and another 5 to 10% say they’re likely to vote against him). Trump has the unshakable support of about 25% of the electorate and the likely support of about 15% more.

        These numbers make it almost impossible for Trump to be reelected in a straight-up two-candidate race. And that makes it crucial to keep the goddamned Gary Johnsons and Jill Steins and Howard Who’s at home sitting on their hands/i> during the 2020 election — the people, that is, who could siphon away the votes of anti-Trump Republicans and the small number of “undecideds” from the Democratic candidate. Without these third-party candidates in the race, it would be impossible for Trump to “win” again with just 46% of the electorate and minus 3 million votes (numbers he’d be lucky to repeat in 2020).

        I think we’re all overestimating Donald Trump’s strength as a candidate for reelection based upon the “black swan” event of the 2016 election.

        • rickflick
          Posted April 21, 2019 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

          “I think we’re all overestimating Donald Trump’s strength…”.

          That sounds like gospel music to my ears. 😎

        • Posted April 27, 2019 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

          This election matters so much that we should brook no complacency at all. While acknowledging all you say, Trump could still win the way he did last time: Dem voters stay home due to laziness or overconfidence that their candidate will win in a runaway, Trump voters whipped to a frenzy by the “even worse disaster at our border”, the perceived outrage at a failed impeachment, and those Russians hacking our election again but this time with greater confidence and financial support. It’s never in the bag until the actual event.

  5. Diana MacPherson
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    a. No. Because the people who are invested in identity politics never vote. The people who vote think it’s a lot of crap and won’t be swayed by it.

    b. No one yet. But I’m Canadian, I get tried of our politics and they only last a few months in an election year and the leadership election is usually over in a weekend.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted April 21, 2019 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      tried = tired but it works there too. My fear is Canada is headed for a Conservative PM with already having several provinces with Conservative premiers.

      • Martin Levin
        Posted April 21, 2019 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

        Diana, I so hope not. Many of my friends who are less than enthused by Justin, will either hold their noses and vote Liberal, or recall that he has many competent+ cabinet members. True, I live in a liberal/Liberal mostly) Toronto bubble, but I gather that view is wider-spread. Also, Scheer is a bit of a nitwit, and so might derail himself once the mercifully brief campaign begins, though being a nitwit did not5 stop Doug Ford.

        • rickflick
          Posted April 21, 2019 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

          Doug Ford = Donald Trump?

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted April 22, 2019 at 10:45 am | Permalink

            Mini Trump.

            • rickflick
              Posted April 23, 2019 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

              What ever happened to FDR, Churchill, de Gaulle? Now we get Trump and Ford? The Earth must have passed through a mysterious mist transforming leaders into clown-zombies.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted April 23, 2019 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

                Somewhere along the line, it all became about fame, power, and personal enrichment, which are all an anathema to being a good statesperson.

              • rickflick
                Posted April 23, 2019 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

                Let’s do better next time. 2020 is just around the corner. Canada will see better days.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted April 22, 2019 at 10:44 am | Permalink

          I find people really react badly to Trudeau and I think he’s adequate. We’ve done worse. I already see the misinformation and smear campaigns starting about the carbon tax the idea of “open borders” (which is just laughable to me) so I’m afraid the fear mongering to those who are traditionally fearful of all changes, might swing things to the right…and I think Scheer is a total nitwit.

          • phoffman56
            Posted April 22, 2019 at 10:51 am | Permalink

            Agreed, though to me Chrystia Freeland, Foreign Minister, stands head&shoulders above the rest, including Trudeau.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted April 22, 2019 at 10:58 am | Permalink

              Yes, I actually thought that she’d be a great PM if Trudeau were to step down and she were to be the party leader.

  6. yazikus
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    A – Seconding SA Gould’s maybe. I think that the right will use identity politics to try to divide the left.
    B – I think Warren is pretty great, and I like Harris (the complaints of her being a ‘cop’ just don’t bother me).

    As for Bernie and Biden, I’m reminded of a former colleague and mentor whose main objection to both Clinton and Trump last time around was their age. She, being over seventy, said that it was just too old based on her own understanding of where her faculties had been, and where they were currently. She is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted April 21, 2019 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      Yes, I was thinking about the right using identity politics to divide the left as well. A smart candidate will rise above that to appeal to those on the left who reject identity politics. I think a successful candidate would explicitly reject identity politics.

      • Posted April 21, 2019 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

        “I think a successful candidate would explicitly reject identity politics.”

        A brilliant observation. Unfortunately, it would take someone on the left having what Trump has on the right–i.e., total obliviousness/indifference to the party’s prevailing wisdom. I can’t see that happening.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted April 21, 2019 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

          Or a true statesman that doesn’t care.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted April 21, 2019 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

          “… what Trump has on the right–i.e., total obliviousness/indifference to the party’s prevailing wisdom.”

          I don’t think that’s entirely accurate, Gary. I think there are three strands to so-called “Trumpism”: First, there are the “third rails” of traditional Republicanism that Trump doesn’t give a damn about personally (and is even on record as opposing in the not-so-distant past), but which he knows, if you touch them you die — anti-abortionism, the appointment of hard-right judges, anti-Obamacare, and the usual guns & God stuff.

          The second strand is establishment Republicanism that happens to be good for Trump’s own personal bottom line — fat-cat tax breaks and cuts to regulations regarding consumer-protection, worker health & safety, clean air & water, etc. (you know, stuff that’s “bad for bidness”).

          The third strand, which is unique to Trump, but which the GOP itself has been nurturing since Nixon’s “Southern Strategy,” through Reagan’s courting of the evangelical vote, through Poppy Bush’s “Willie Horton” ad, through the Koch brothers’ co-option of the Tea Party, right up until the GOP allowed the “Birther” movement to fester in its ranks — a blatant appeal to xenophobia, nativism, and white-nationalism, the appeal, that is, to the mixture of fear and resentment that exhilarates “the Trump base.”

          Mix ’em all together, and you’ve got about 35% to 45% of the US electorate.

          • Posted April 21, 2019 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

            I generally consider you as being more savvy about this stuff than I am, Ken, so you may be right. Per Diana’s observation, however, would you consider explicitly rejecting identity politics a “third rail” for Democrats? That’s my concern. Trump aside, I can’t see any candidate on the left having he guts to go that route.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted April 21, 2019 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

              Sure, I’d like to see Democratic candidates denounce “identity politics,” tout court. But there’s no gainsaying that a substantial portion of the Democratic base now comprises minorities and single women; they have issues that are of particular interest to them, too.

              But the real divide in this country is now (as perhaps it ever was) between the rich and regular working people. There’s a unity of interest among working people, regardless of race or ethnicity or religion, and the Democrats need to appeal to that. The Republicans have kept working-class whites distracted for far too long with Kulturkampf issues, while they get away with economic murder in favor of the rich.

              The crucial thing in the coming election is to defeat Donald Trump. I think the Democrats’ best chance of doing so is by presenting a balanced ticket — balanced by ideology (progressive and centrist), by geography (coastal and interior), by gender, and by race/ethnicity — a ticket that will, in short, motivate the base, yet still appeal to (or at least not alienate) the old working-class Democrats I grew up among.

              Originally, I was hoping that Sherrod Brown would get in the race, and my “Winter Book” pick for the ideal Democratic ticket was some combination of Brown/Amy Klobuchar matched with Kamala Harris/Cory Booker. I’m waiting and watching now to see who might ascend to fill the Sherrod Brown slot.

              This is an election in which pragmatic politics must (you’ll excuse the word) trump ideology.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted April 21, 2019 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

                Maybe balanced by age, too, Gary; I forgot that one. You know, old fart and whippersnapper. 🙂

              • Posted April 22, 2019 at 10:10 am | Permalink

                “But there’s no gainsaying that a substantial portion of the Democratic base now comprises minorities and single women;”

                I don’t equate “identity politics” with minorities and single women; I equate it with idiocy and being “woke,” which I give minorities and single women enough credit to see through. Any Democratic candidate tiptoeing around that distinction is going to get squashed by Trump. (Nice use of “comprises,” however. 😊)

      • Historian
        Posted April 21, 2019 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

        You need to define what you mean by rejecting identity politics. If you mean that people should reject the notion that their only concern is for their group and for no others then you may have a point. I don’t think there are many people who take this view. If you mean that they should no longer advocate for the specific interests of their group under the notion that all people should simply think in terms of the whole or the greater group then you are very much mistaken. People identify with one or more groups for many reasons and they expect these groups to advance their interests. This is the way democratic politics works. And, as I’ve stated before, people who keep kvetching about identity politics are conservatives or those they have conned.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted April 21, 2019 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

          I mean in the sense that your identity to whatever group(s) trumps all else and that this identity can only be understood by you alone (intersectionality) and to a small extent by those who share various portions of your identity. So I could only relate to other white women. I could never relate to a man or a person of colour. For this reason, we must never work together an any cause no matter how common because we are all different and can never find common ground as human beings. Those identity politics. A zero sum game and one that will destroy democratic processes.

          • Historian
            Posted April 21, 2019 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

            The question is how many people think in the terms you’ve outlined. I think they are very few despite the rantings of college sophomores. ALL people identify with one or more groups of varying kinds. And the vast majority of people engaged in politics understand that the advancement of the interests of their group depend on cooperation and political alliances with other groups. The fixation on identity politics plays into the hands of the right wing.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted April 21, 2019 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

              Exactly. That’s why I answered as I did. My answer to A says exactly that. My further explanation is that coming out against this silliness is of low risk and would go a long way in cementing the relationship with the majority of liberals who don’t feel this way. Not sure what you’re finding inconsistent with my answer.

              • Posted April 23, 2019 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

                “. . .coming out against this silliness is of low risk and would go a long way in cementing the relationship with the majority of liberals who don’t feel this way.”

                Exactly! Because those in the LBGQTRSVXYZ community who are going to take offense aren’t going to vote for Trump in any case and those who reject that brand of identity politics are going to appreciate the courage of such a candidate. If I recall, you’re Canadian. Too bad—I was going to encourage you to run.

    • Posted April 21, 2019 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      Now I don’t have to write my comment.

    • Posted April 21, 2019 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

      I agree with your former colleague. Bernie Sanders will be 79 at the time of the election and Joe Biden 78 (near enough). I’m sorry, but these guys are too old.

      Of course, Biden hasn’t declared yet, so he may yet see sense.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted April 21, 2019 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

        I agree. I think they’re only topping the polls because of name recognition. And although I like most of Bernie’s policies, I don’t think he would be a very good president. (Though anyone is going to look great after Trump.)

        To answer Jerry’s questions.

        a) I think identity politics is stopping independents that lean Republican from voting Democrat.
        b) I like Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, and John Hickenlooper at this stage. I also really like Stacey Abrams, though she hasn’t declared yet and maybe won’t.

        • CAS
          Posted April 21, 2019 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

          Look into Amy Klobuchar, she’s a moderate liberal with a sense of humor. She’s also tough and doesn’t get apologetic when challenged by the whiny left. She worked her way out of humble beginnings and will appeal to voters in the Midwest.

          • Heather Hastie
            Posted April 23, 2019 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

            I forgot about her. She’s another I like a lot. She should have been on my list.

  7. GBJames
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    It is too early for me to be excited about anything more than ridding the landscape of tRump and his following. While I dislike identity politics, I am not overly worried that it will deeply divide Dems in this cycle.

    • Posted April 21, 2019 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

      The presidents name is Trump.


      • GBJames
        Posted April 22, 2019 at 8:21 am | Permalink

        Sorry, but my keyboard is incapable of granting him that level of respect.

  8. BJ
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    a. Absolutely. It seems the only thing the media (especially MSNBC) can talk about is identity politics and white males. If Democrats and the media that supports them don’t quickly pivot to actual policies, they will fail. The people out there who are poor, seeing loved ones and communities decimated by addiction, who want a coherent foreign policy, etc., don’t care about any of this. Hillary Clinton didn’t lose because she’s a woman; she lost because she was a terrible candidate. Muslim theocracies like Pakistan have had female Presidents.

    b. No, not yet. I’m largely a centrist and, so far, the Dems and media seem to be pushing those who say whatever is farthest Left. I feel like Amy Klobuchar could be a good centrist candidate and could be good on the campaign trail. I think Biden is too old, but I’d still support him. Those are the only two for whom I have even mild enthusiasm.

    • yazikus
      Posted April 21, 2019 at 11:27 am | Permalink

      I know the news about Klobuchar being a mean boss is supposed to put me off her- but I can’t help but thinking mean boss does not equal bad president necessarily.
      I found the salad-comb story almost charming. I mean, what kind of person lets a missing fork deprive them of their salad?

      • BJ
        Posted April 21, 2019 at 11:38 am | Permalink

        Yeah and, honestly, sometimes an extremely demanding person is also the kind of person who can stand up for their country in the wider world. Sometimes, they’re the kind of person who can get shit done better than anyone else. Just look at LBJ (“shit” pun intended).

        I really don’t care if she’s mean in private. I care if she’ll be a good President and can win.

        • yazikus
          Posted April 21, 2019 at 11:44 am | Permalink

          Indeed. I recall a good piece I heard some years ago on NPR about how radio, and then television, changed forever how we elect our presidents. Prior to radio, the candidates were, how shall we say, less than charismatic. They weren’t attractive, they weren’t pleasant and they weren’t smooth talkers – but they were skilled leaders and administrators.

          One of my favorite bosses was quite demanding. The motto she gave us to contemplate prior to entering her office was ‘Be brief, be bright, be gone’ – which might sound mean to some, but it was a good motto. She didn’t have time to waste on frivolities, nor moodiness and had a shit-ton of work to get done.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted April 21, 2019 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

            Prior to radio … they were skilled leaders and administrators.

            The eight dwarfs who held the office of the US presidency between Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln, as well as Warren G. Harding, all militate against that particular analysis.

        • BobTerrace
          Posted April 21, 2019 at 11:54 am | Permalink

          There is demanding and there is abusive. Those who are abusive might get shit done, but it will be the wrong shit.

    • Forse
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      A. Changed Rules of Engagement so that ISIS caliphate destroyed.
      B. Pull out of Iran nuclear deal appears to have had positive effects.
      C. Prison reform.
      D. Deregulation. Positive effect on gnp.
      E. China: taking on Beijing welcomed by reformers in China, where T is popular.
      F. Promote LGBT rights in countries where illegal.
      G. Strong pro-Israel moves.
      H. Strong anti-Russia moves.

      All these arguable, but not immediately apparent that they are “ odious”.
      Spoken by an old time leftie Aussie living in China. Not a Trump supporter, but I do get upset by characterising opponents as some kind of evil. They are not. They want to do good for the country. Yes, even T.
      Forse in HK.

      • rickflick
        Posted April 22, 2019 at 11:03 am | Permalink

        “characterizing opponents as some kind of evil”

        I’ve resisted thinking of today’s Republicans as evil beings, but I’ve felt forced to do so. On many social issues they are pressing for more wealth for the wealthy at the expense of everybody else. This is immoral.
        Another area that makes Republicans odious and players in sin, is there denialism on global warming. The only reason they are denialists, given all the evidence, is greed. Money made in the short term at the expense of the future of the country and the planet. No one should mistake this for anything other than shear avarice and the complete loss of human decency.
        So, yes Trump, and I have to say, his entire political party have sold their souls. They are criminal, odious, and depraved.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted April 22, 2019 at 11:04 am | Permalink

          They have taken on a Gargamelian persona it seems.

  9. BobTerrace
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    I’m leaning to Sanders and Mayor Pete. Sanders has tremendous policies, which need to be tempered. Buttigieg is well educated, speaks seven languages and is articulate and quick witted with good policies.

    As far as diversity, one is a Jew and the other is a homosexual who is comfortable with who he is and can defend against religionists.

  10. Posted April 21, 2019 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    “Only comments #2 and #10 are dissents:”

    #2 is not dissent at all, it is sarcastic.

  11. Randall Schenck
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    The preoccupation with analysis of democratic voters is a great waste of time. You never see republicans getting off on this but it seems to be the only thing for democrats. This is a big reason why they loose – they are spending way too much time worrying about each other or how they look to their particular tribe. It is kind of sick and may if this is what the democrats have become, they are no longer a political party. At least not one that can win.

    When many in the democratic side sat out the last election or voted for Trump, the writing is on the wall. I think, male or female, it does not matter. What is needed is a candidate that can circle the collective wagons and get all democrats to agree on one thing. Voting and saving this country from the republicans. If this person does not appear, they are lost and this country is done.

    The same is true on the question of impeachment. All the political worry about how will it look, or gee we still lose in the Senate is just garbage. If you can read and have read the report and you have any idea of the oath of office all congress people must take, that is all you need. Pelosi is the current leader and Schummer in the Senate. They need to step up and say impeach or everyone go home and forget their duty.

  12. BJ
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    “But as older white men, they are out of step with ascendant forces in the party today.”

    Apparently, race and sex alone decide whether or not you are out of step with the Party’s base. This is a sad commentary on both those voters and this NYT writer. It has nothing to do with policy. Policy should decide whether or not you’re out of step. If the number one thing people are judging candidates on is race and sex, then such people are no better than any other racist or sexist.

  13. Posted April 21, 2019 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    “. . .like taking climate change seriously, is something that needs to be part of a Democratic push.”

    I’m not so sure about this. Whatever the scientific facts—and I’m not contesting them—the political fact is that climate change, aka global warming, has become a badge of the tribe, a virtue-signalling device for Democrats. That it should be the Democrats who are predicting global doom, even as they hypocritically take Republicans to task for using scare tactics on other issues, is perhaps telling: their professed concern for the planet may be a projected concern for the future of the party.

    A case in point: according to Michael R. Nelson and Kathleen Dean Moore, co-editors of the anthology “Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril,” anyone who denies climate change “must believe that greed and limitless profit trump the human rights of future generations.” Note that one doesn’t have to do anything to earn this righteous condemnation. Simply not believing in climate change—i.e., exercising one’s freedom of thought—is to “violate basic human rights, condemning all future generations to struggle and misery.” Really? Is this a message that is likely to resonate with independent or undecided voters?

    My point is, that Democrats generally don’t know how to talk about climate change in any measured way that is credible beyond the tribe—so much so that it might be better for them not to talk about it at all.

    But to answer the larger question: yes, I think identity politics are going to hurt the Dems in 2020.

    • BobTerrace
      Posted April 21, 2019 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      Hmmm, take the writing of two people and project it on half the country that they deny freedom of choice.

      • Posted April 21, 2019 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

        Whether they admit it or not, many on the left share Nelson and Dean’s conviction that to even question the catastrophic consequences of climate change is a sign of moral degeneracy. That, I would suggest, is what’s being projected onto “half the country,” and it’s not a strategy likely to win elections.

  14. Historian
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    There is much that one can respond to in this post, but I will limit myself to what I consider the most important points.

    1. Identity politics is nothing new in American politics. It has always existed. As one example, in New York City prior to minorities becoming political active, the Democratic nominees for the top three positions in city government for most of the 20th century consisted of a Jew, Italian, and Irish in some order. Now we have minorities demanding their place at the table. Not anything can stop this nor should it.

    2. The Democratic Party consists of many identity groups. The Republican Party consists of only one – white people (mostly old). Make no mistake about it, Trump’s victory was helped by his blatant and obvious appeal to white people threatened by demographic change. Unfortunately, the Republican mantra of attacking identity politics is a ploy that has been all too successful. Democrats have been fools for not emphasizing the hypocrisy.

    3. Because the Democratic Party consists of many interest groups, in comparison to the Republicans, it has great difficulty in getting them on the same page (“herding cats”).

    4. It is obvious to me that whomever is the Democratic nominee must have the support of all the interest (or identity) groups. Nothing is more important than getting rid of Trump. As Obama put it, the party must avoid a circular firing squad. If certain groups refuse to rally around the nominee then they are complete fools and deserve what they get. They would not have learned a simple lesson of politics: you can’t get everything you want.

    5. For me, the best candidate is one who has a good chance of beating Trump and endorses a progressive agenda. Of course, I will take into consideration the details of the proposed policies. It is much too early for me to pick a favorite out of the approximate 20 announced candidates. I need to learn a lost more about most of them. I do not care what is the race, sex, ethnicity, or sexual orientation of the candidate.

    6. If Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders gets the nomination, I will, of course, support him. However, I am very concerned about their ages. They are simply too old to be the best candidates. People in their late 70s are susceptible to a myriad of diseases, mental and physical, that are much less likely to afflict people a decade or more younger. Whom they would pick for vice-president would be much more important than usual.

    • Posted April 21, 2019 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      As Obama put it, the party must avoid a circular firing squad.

      Nice, coming from the man who maximized the use of identity politics, and resorted to race-baiting whenever it benefited him personally.

    • Posted April 21, 2019 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

      +1 to the max. “Identity politics” is pure slur. If it were meant literally, it would simplify to: politics.

  15. J Cook
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Dog catcher is an honorable profession.

  16. Caldwell
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    a. Are identity politics among Democrats going to hurt us in 2020?

    If “us” = right-wing libertarians, then no.

    b. Who (if any) among the declared Democratic candidates excites you?

    Bernie, so I could visit Venezuela without leaving the US.

  17. Randall Schenck
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Another thing that seems irrelevant in this next election is making sure your candidate is for all your causes. Must be for the green planet, healthcare for all, a higher wage, free college and more. None of that matters if the democrats do not also take the Senate so demanding all those things from your candidate could just be a waste of time.

  18. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    a- Yes, if only because it can and is used by the opposition, but there is much more of course, see 2016.
    b- Exited is a big word, none as yet, but I see potential in several ones, Mr Buttigieg, Ms Klobuchar, Ms Gabbard or even Mr Inslee or Mr O’Rourke
    I agree with Historian that Mrs Sanders and Biden are too old, and the latter has way too much ‘baggage’ anyway.

  19. Jon Gallant
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    When he was a Senator, Joe Biden was one of the few who took seriously the idea of letting Iraq subdivide into three polities of Sunni, Shia, and Kurd. This shows that Biden was, at least then, able to transcend the conventional, superstitious worship of the status quo. Another Biden advantage: he may be the one most likely to win the election.

    As for age, it might be recalled that Enrico Dandolo, the Doge of Venice from 1192 to 1205, was in his 90s when he manipulated the 4th Crusaders into doing Venice’s dirty work (subjugating two of its Christian commercial rivals) rather than Crusading against the Saracens. Not bad going for an old, white, almost dead male.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted April 21, 2019 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      When he was a Senator, Joe Biden was one of the few who took seriously the idea of letting Iraq subdivide into three polities of Sunni, Shia, and Kurd.

      The Turks and Iranians would have done the seagull thing on that, from a great height. The one thing they didn’t want at that time was the slightest bit of hope being given to their significant and restive Kurdish populations. The Sunni-Shia split might have been workable, but founding a Kurdish state would have been anathema.
      That it might have worked for Iraq wasn’t a consideration.

  20. pablo
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    I was a Bernie supporter in 2016 because I thought Hillary would be a disaster. I understood his reason for running then. I don’t now.

    Corey Booker is pushing slavery reparations. Can you even imagine how high the Republican turnout and how low the Democratic in the general election should he get the nomination?

    I like Warren on policy though I fear that stupid Indian ancestry controversy could sink her.

    I’m impressed with Mayor Pete every time I hear him speak, but he lacks experience and there’s no way a gay guy could win the general. I could see him as veep.

    Don’t know enough about Harris or Beto yet, but they do seem to excite a lot of younger Democrats.

    With the exceptions of Booker, Yang, Klobuchar, and Gillibrand,(who are all definite “no” votes from me)I’m pretty neutral on the rest.

    • Posted April 21, 2019 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      Harris has also coyly sort-of endorsed reparations.

      Do look into Warren’s legal career as an expert on setting up sham bankruptcies so big corporations could avoid paying pensions, workers’ comp, and product liability damages.

      Beto strikes me as a self-absorbed beatnik.

      I think anyone who’s super enthusiastic about any of these candidates is deluding themselves.

  21. phoffman56
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    “ we simply go for the candidate who is a.) most likely to defeat Trump and b.) has the best policies?”

    I agree with all Jerry says before that, but:

    As most surely agree, voters should try to evaluate at least both of these, and more. But surely it should not be “and” but rather ‘or’, since it is highly unlikely the same candidate has the best mark in both (a) and (b).

    Really, as a non-USian, it’s not my business nearly as much as it is most others here. But I’d definitely opt for (a) ahead of (b). I probably don’t care that much about internal US policies (–sorry, but it’s hard not to say ‘the electors make their bed, so let them sleep in it’–). But Trump badly affects the rest of the world on many things, especially the threats of climate change and thermonuclear war. And all the present candidates for the Democrats have decent policies as far as I can tell.

    • Posted April 21, 2019 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      It’s probable that all the candidates have got better policies than the incumbent. And it doesn’t matter how good your policies are if you are not the president, or if the legislature is controlled by the Republicans.

      (full disclosure: also non-USian).

    • pablo
      Posted April 21, 2019 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      The “USian” thing drives me nuts. There are other countries whose names begin with United States, Mexico, Belgium, Brazil, etc…
      When you say “American” everyone knows you’re talking about the USA.

      • phoffman56
        Posted April 21, 2019 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

        especially the first few paragraphs.

        There is no other people in world who ever refer to their country as “the US”. The awkward phrase ‘the Americas’ was mostly invented by USians for the obvious reason. It gives a new lengthy awkward unnecessary replacement for what had always before been called America. ‘USian’ has 5 letters; ‘American’ has 8.

        I like precision, brevity and non-ambiguity, and perhaps the opportunity to remind USians of some rather inflated views about God’s chosen land, and an aspect of the Monroe Doctrine, and perhaps even some history from circa 1812.

        Thanks for the opportunity to explain.

      • Posted April 22, 2019 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

        Or maybe USAians; Amerikans; A-mer-cuns; etc.

  22. Keith
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    a) Yes, I worry that identity will set a narrative that runs counter to any positive vision for restoring credibility to the office, our country, and its position as a global leader.

    b) I’m intrigued by Mayor Pete and look forward to his policy proposals. I also like Sanders and Inslee as they are both strong on climate action, but also look forward to messages from Harris and Warren. The democrats have a deep bench and I think any of them can beat any Republican.

  23. Posted April 21, 2019 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    a. Yes, and they already are;

    b. Amy Klobuchar, for being a centrist and for throwing staplers; Pete Buttigieg for at least having refreshing takes on issues. OTOH, Warren for being a fabulist, and Harris for her defense of Ilhan Omar’s anti-semitism, will never get my vote in any primary or general election.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 1:33 am | Permalink

      I wasn’t even aware Ms Harris supported Ms Ilhan’s anti-semitism. So Ms Harris is a nono.

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted April 27, 2019 at 5:31 am | Permalink

        I’ve looked up Ms Harris and anti-semitism.
        – she’s married to a jew (Douglas Emhof)
        – she used to be a ‘blue box’ girl (collecting funds for tree-planting in Israel)
        – she visited Israel several times and had nothing but praise.
        – she opposes BDS
        – she favours a two state solution
        – she gave two talks for APAIC
        – she rebuked the Obama administration for allowing through a US Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s settlement policies.
        Not exactly the profile of an anti-semite, I’d say. So, for me she’s still in, after all.

  24. Taz
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    . . . a minority candidate or a woman who might struggle to carry predominantly white swing states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. . .

    I find it funny that the NYT suggests a woman might struggle to carry Michigan, a state that just elected women to its three highest offices – Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General – as well as returning Debbie Stabenow to the Senate. Hillary Clinton didn’t lose the state because she’s a woman.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 1:29 am | Permalink

      Michigan? You are perfectly right Taz, no clear anti-female bias. Note that Ms Clinton lost the count by only 0.2%, and was ex aequo in the exit polls there.
      And in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania she lost by probable voter fraud, since the discrepancies between exit polls (where she won) and voter count (where she lost) were well outside the margins of error.

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted April 22, 2019 at 1:30 am | Permalink

        Oops, not voter fraud, I meant probable counting fraud.

        • Posted April 22, 2019 at 9:43 am | Permalink

          In the precincts in PA that used aging electronic voting machines with no paper trails, the deviation between the count and the exit polling was two standard deviations — an ‘error’ margin never experienced before in exit polling.

          But the election never should have been so close as to be vulnerable to hacking of a few polling machines. Through their identity politics, the Dems have alienated vast sections of the US electorate. If they do not desist, states like PA and WI will remain out of their reach.

  25. rickflick
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Identity politics could seriously hurt Dems. I think a average voter cares about minorities and the disenfranchised, but are more concerned about their own situation. Also, identity can sound like pitting one group against another rather than simply bringing people in to the middle.

    No candidate really excites me. I like some like Mayor Pete for his excellent ability to argue a point. But, I currently am thinking Biden since he is the safest candidate. I think he can appeal to independents. Hopefully he will pick a female running mate.

  26. Harrison
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    The major advantage Dems have this go around is that none of the contenders are as nationally unpopular as Hillary was. I don’t need anyone exciting. I think most people apart from ironically the news media would be happy with a return to normalcy.

    Harris is the only candidate I’m really pulling against, but luckily her numbers don’t look so hot so I don’t think I’ll have to end up holding my nose on that vote.

  27. David Harper
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Taking a global view, many countries have elected women prime ministers or presidents over the past half century. The glaring exception is the United States. I suspect that the reaction of the rest of the world to the first woman U.S. president would be “and about damn time!”

    • rickflick
      Posted April 21, 2019 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      I would welcome a woman president. Most of the current female contenders would likely do well at the job. My concern is that a female at the top of the ticket might do somewhat less well against Trump. That’s a risk I don’t want to take. Maybe next cycle.

    • Harrison
      Posted April 21, 2019 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

      To nitpick, the voters don’t directly choose a PM, which makes some difference. If the US were a parliamentary system the role of Speaker of the House would also be the chief executive. Admittedly the first woman in that role still only got the job a bit over a decade ago.

  28. Sam Lowry
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    a) Absolutely; I believe that identify politics will be the key issue in this election and – in all likelihood – the failure of the Democrats once again.

    Consider that after Hillary made her unfortunate “deplorables” comment(and in her defense, the comment was of course directed at the very worst of the right), many commented after the election that this error was symbolic of a general contempt that was felt by the “flyovers.” Many saw this as a teachable moment and a reminder to better reach out across the populace next time.

    Since then, however, the message from our progressives (and the cowed Democratic leadership who remain silent and therefore complicit) has been “Hillary didn’t go far enough…it’s not just the Klan or Nazis who are deplorable…it’s many, many more: anyone with a MAGA hat, anyone who voted for Trump, anyone from Covington, anyone white & male, hell…anyone from Kentucky!”

    Or consider this simple litmus test: How many running Democrats are now supporting the abolishment of the Electoral College? I count Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg, O’Rourke, & Gillibrand so far. What a great message to the people of Nebraska! “We can’t seem to win playing by the rules, so if elected, I’ll make sure that only New York and California decide our future contests!”

    We have learned nothing, and we are racing in the opposite direction.

    b) The only candidate that excites me is Yang. He understands the toxicity of identify politics and thus far has been able to sidestep it with a laser focus on policy and solutions. He is light years of ahead of every other candidate with upwards of 70 policies posted already on his website. Meanwhile the others seem to offer little policy beyond “health care for all” and “Trump and racism are bad.” (I had briefly thought that Buttigieg was an outlier here, but losing confidence.)

    Yang wisely sees Trump’s victory as a symptom. He typically describes this in economic terms, but his past tweets and his interviews (with Joe Rogan, Sam Harris, Shapiro for example) reveal someone who understands the fundamental intellectual dishonesty of identity politics and how lost the Democrats have become in service to it.

    • Historian
      Posted April 21, 2019 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      Democrats don’t care what the people of Nebraska think. They last time they won there was LBJ in 1964 and before that FDR in 1936. In terms of politics, only the battleground states count.

      It is very unlikely that Trump will win any more states than he did in 2016. Democrats need to focus their efforts on states they stand a reasonable chance of flipping in 2020: Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, Arizona and North Carolina.

      Whether or not identity politics plays a role in the outcome of the election remains to be seen. My guess is that all those people who express horror at the concept, despite that it was the key to Trump’s victory via his appeal to frightened white people, voted for Trump in 2016 and would still vote for Trump in 2020. I could be wrong and data could change my mind, but it seems likely that those who get vexed by identity politics won’t count in determining whether the above mentioned states flip. What will be the determinant is whether Democrats will be able to turn out voters, largely minorities, who didn’t vote in 2016. In other words, my analysis concludes that Trump has maxed out on the number of votes he will get. The Democrats have a large pool of potential voters, most of whom don’t wet their pants over identity politics. Getting them to the polls is the Democratic challenge.

      Also, don’t you worry about the abolition of the undemocratic electoral college. Despite what you seem to imply, the next Democratic president cannot make it magically disappear. That would take a constitutional amendment and that is not happening any time soon. So, your fear is unfounded that one vote in California may be worth one vote in Nebraska.

      • Posted April 21, 2019 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

        Right again, especially your point about minority voters. That’s why the Democratic nominee needs to pick a black running mate (if they aren’t black themselves). On the grounds that they’re the best qualified, of course, just as all other VP candidates in history were picked because they were best qualified and it had nothing to do with appealing to the South or to women or what have you. If you wanna make an omelette, you gotta break a few eggs.

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted April 22, 2019 at 1:56 am | Permalink

        “Democrats need to focus their efforts on states they stand a reasonable chance of flipping in 2020: Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, Arizona and North Carolina.”
        So very true, Historian, that is how the EC works, and that is the only way to beat Mr Trump. I would have added Ohio and Georgia though (Ms Clinton lost the exit polls there by only 0.2% and 1,4% respectively).
        The question for the Democrats can be ‘constricted’ from “who has the best chance to beat Mr Trump?”, to “who has the best chance to beat Mr Trump in those states”?
        They also need to find a way to prevent counting fraud.

    • max blancke
      Posted April 21, 2019 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

      “and in her defense, the comment was of course directed at the very worst of the right”

      It was directed at half of Trump supporters. She used the word “half”. So give or take 30 million people. Unless you want to add in half of the Trump supporters who did not vote. She also referred to them in the same speech as “irredeemable”. And she apparently used that phrasing many times.

      Hypothetically, if you were in power, what would you do with a group of people you considered “irredeemable”?
      I know what the historical solution has usually been.
      Not that she would have been very likely to even attempt to follow through with that. But lots of people voted not so much for Trump, but against Hillary.

      My wife’s observation during the 2016 election was that most democrats failed to understand how abhorrent many people find HRC.

      • Posted April 22, 2019 at 11:46 am | Permalink

        The irony is that in 2008, when obama was whipping up leftwing elitist support by speaking of small-town midwesterners who “get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations”, HRC was excoriated for observing “I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition …. Senator Obama’s support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again…. Whites … who had not completed college [are] supporting me.”

        In 2016, saddled with the legacy of her predecessor’s identity politics, Clinton attempted to appeal to the left wing of the Party by clumsily emulating the bitter-clinger sneer — though this time not caught on a live mic at fundraiser for San Francisco elites, but at a televised rally!

        It deserves quoting in full to reveal how incredibly, stupidly offensive and misguided it was:

        You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now how 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.

        HRC did go on to say Dems need to “understand and empathize with the other basket” who “who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change.” But the damage had been done.

    • Sarah Hambrick
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      Andrew Yang is the best presidential candidate of my lifetime (58 years). He is evidence-based, compassionate, and very well-spoken and intelligent. His polices – check them out at – are forward-looking. He jokes that people have called him a futurist, but he considers himself a present-ist. It’s just that the other candidates are stuck in the past. Exactly!!

  29. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    Trust me; I’ve got a premonition on this: I think a hostile foreign power is going to hack into the computers of the Republican National Committee and Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale. It will turn that information over to a website — let’s call it Woke-i-Leaks — for publication and use on behalf of the Democratic candidate’s campaign. The hostile foreign power will also conduct a large-scale active-measures and malign-influence campaign on social media on behalf of the Democratic candidate.

    Despite these efforts, Donald Trump will win the popular vote by three million ballots. He will, however, lose in the electoral college due to razor-thin voting margins in three rust-belt swing states.

    Notwithstanding this bitter defeat, Donald Trump will promptly give the most moving, patriotic, articulate, extemporaneous concession speech anyone’s ever heard, calling for all his supporters and the rest of the American polity to bind together in support of the new Democratic president-elect for the good of the Republic. After inauguration day, he will leave public life to go off to live quietly and build housing for Habitat for Humanity, like a common Jimmy Carter.

    Also, unicorns.

    • Historian
      Posted April 21, 2019 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      As part of his work for Habitat for Humanity, he will build a new Trump Tower in Manhattan that will consist of rental units for the poor. He will say: “My life’s work is complete. Over the years I have given billions to help the disadvantaged. I now have no money left, but I don’t care. In any case, I will share a unit with my dear friend, Michael Cohen. Each day we will go and assist at the soup kitchen. And I will most humbly cherish the statue of me being erected in Central Park. It’s the best statue in the world. It even gets my hair right.”😎

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted April 21, 2019 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

        And the pigeons of Central Park will come alight upon his shoulders, like St. Francis of Assisi. 🙂

  30. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    Let’s get rid of the anachronism of the electoral college (Democrats have won six of the last seven presidential popular votes), and let’s get Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico the statehood they’ve long damn deserved. Some of our problems will rectify themselves.

    There are several declared Democratic candidates I would support with alacrity, and not a one of ’em (declared or potential) I wouldn’t work hard to support to defeat Donald Trump (or Mike Pence).

    The first primary (or, rather, “caucus,” in Iowa) is over nine months away — a lifetime in politics. I’ve got bones to pick with how we go about picking nominees, but let’s let the contenders thrash it out awhile, see where we stand then.

    • Davide Spinello
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      Let’s get rid of the anachronism of the electoral college (Democrats have won six of the last seven presidential popular votes), and let’s get Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico the statehood they’ve long damn deserved. Some of our problems will rectify themselves.If I understand correctly, your rectification of “our problems” is to reduce elections to a formality, being sure that the party representing the demographic aggregate sharing your ideas will win forever.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted April 22, 2019 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

        Dunno about you, Davide, but I’ve long been under the impression that “majority rule” is the sine qua non of a functioning democracy.

        As it stands now, the Republican Party, through a ruthless use of gerrymandering, voter suppression, and abuse of the parliamentary procedures in congress — along with the inherently non-majoritarian nature of the US senate and the electoral college — continues to cling to most of the political power in this nation, despite routinely garnering the votes of a minority of the electorate.

        And, yeah, I think that’s a “problem” in need of rectification.

  31. Posted April 21, 2019 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    a. Are identity politics among Democrats going to hurt us in 2020?

    I take that for granted. Whether it’s enough to cost the election, I don’t know. But there’s no chance that it benefits them in any way.

    b. Who (if any) among the declared Democratic candidates excites you?

    Sanders looks least like the usual pro torture, pro total surveillance, corporatist warmonger. The US needs someone who can live up to the ideal of a freedom and “western values” promoting global leader, which the last three presidents (including the current) have pissed away.

  32. tubby
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    I want someone capable and competent, who knows how the government is supposed to work, and is going to work with congress to assess what norms and traditions need to be made law so the next time we elect a terrible piece of garbage they’re ability to be terrible is much more limited.

  33. Posted April 21, 2019 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    On question B, it’s a damn shame that Sherrod Brown decided not to run.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted April 21, 2019 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

      I was disappointed Sherrod Brown declined to run, too. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in play for the bottom half of the Democratic ticket.

      If, say, Kamala Harris or Cory Booker (or some other woman or another candidate of color) got the nomination, Brown could make quite the attractive VP candidate. He’s very popular in Ohio, including with old-line white working-class Democratic voters. Also, Trump’s approval rating has dropped precipitously in Ohio.

      And, in case anyone’s keeping count, no Republican in history has ever won the presidency without carrying the state of Ohio. Ohio just might be the hill on which Democrats want to plant their anti-Trump flag and fight to the death, and Sherrod Brown just might be the fella to do the flag-planting.

      • BJ
        Posted April 21, 2019 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

        “Ohio just might be the hill on which Democrats want to plant their anti-Trump flag and fight to the death…”

        That’s why they very briefly considered holding their convention there, until someone in the room said, “guys, it’s Cleveland. Come on.” And then they all decided Milwaukee was close enough.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted April 22, 2019 at 8:39 am | Permalink

          Milwaukee doubled for Cleveland in some of the scenes in the baseball flick Major League, so maybe they’re on to something.

          Also, Cleveland did host the infamous “lock her up!” GOP convention of 2016. Some of us around these parts are old enough to remember that one. 🙂

  34. Jim Danielson
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    The New York Times purpose is to sell papers and clicks.
    From the number of comments on the article, I’d say the article did exactly that.
    How much the headline represents the average Democrat is simply unknown, but we do know Republicans will use such articles as ammunition. The article wasn’t written by Democrats, but by reporters. The Republican propaganda machine would simply make something up if there isn’t anything for them to distort, magnify and endlessly repeat, and it appears to me the concern about identity politics in the party is overblown.

    Republicans are going to call Democrats extremists, fanatics, socialists, communists and everything else, and do their best to get their base in a screaming angry fearful froth.

    They will do this no matter what Democrats do. I would have thought Obama’s election and presidency was ample evidence of this.

  35. Posted April 21, 2019 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    Who (if any) among the declared Democratic candidates excites you?

    Unfortunately Michael Bloomberg decided to not be a candidate. He is probably the only Democrat an anti-Trump Republican would vote for.

  36. CAS
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    The primaries will decide the candidate. I don’t think that the far left identity politics folks will come out in large enough numbers to cause too much trouble. I like Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar, who are both reasonable liberals. Klobuchar is particularly tough with a sense of humor, and doesn’t start apologizing when challenged by whiny leftists. I think she will do well in the Midwest if she gets enough exposure. She’s down to earth and smart.

  37. allison
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    Trump’s entire campaign was built around identity politics – specifically uneducated rural white males – and it worked for him.

    • Historian
      Posted April 21, 2019 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

      You are quite correct. The Republican Party is the prime practitioner of identity politics and in the Orwellian world they have created, they have managed to convince non-Republicans that they are somehow dedicated to broad principles while the Democrats cater alone to the parochial interests of their constituent groups. I am glad you have commented on this topic as a counterweight to many of the right wing comments found on this site, some made by people who don’t even recognize they are acting on behalf of the right wing. The unrelenting Republican propaganda for the past 40 years has worked because Democrats have proven to be generally acolytes in political messaging.

      • darrelle
        Posted April 22, 2019 at 7:35 am | Permalink


  38. Jeff
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    I’m not an American and probably woefully uninformed, but if I could I would vote for Warren. She seems smart, knowledgeable, experienced, able to think on her feet and in a debate she’d wipe the floor with Trump (much more effectively than Hillary was able to).

    I’m aware of the ‘Pocahontas problem’, but how long can Trump dine out on that one slur? His supporters will love it, but after a while the thinking part of the electorate will surely notice that it’s all he’s got? Why does nobody seem to like her, what am I missing?

    • Historian
      Posted April 21, 2019 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

      What you are missing is that the Republican propaganda machine has over the past 40 years been unrelenting. Democrats have been amateurs in political messaging.

    • rickflick
      Posted April 21, 2019 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

      I agree that Warren is a substantial candidate. But, I think she has some weaknesses that could reduce her chances. First, she comes off to many as a technocrat. Not especially empathetic or charismatic. Second, she’s a woman. That means she is unappealing to a large number of working class, low education voters. I’d vote for her for president in a heartbeat. She would make a fine executive. But, I think a candidate like Biden has wider appeal and has fewer negatives for independent voters. Maybe Warren as VP would work. I’m just trying to be as pragmatic as possible because a second term for DT is unacceptable.

      • Jeff
        Posted April 21, 2019 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

        I get it now. You and Historian have brought me down to earth.(Damn!)

        • rickflick
          Posted April 21, 2019 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

          It’s still a long way ’till election. Maybe she’ll overcome!

    • Posted April 22, 2019 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      Why does nobody seem to like her, what am I missing?

      Warren falsely claimed federal minority status on official documents, and lied about having done so. Her continued, desperate attempts to prove a false family story are alarming, and paint the picture of a person out of touch with reality — not to mention utterly dismissive of the concerns of native americans.

      Her track record as a bankruptcy lawyer for big corporations goes largely unnoticed, but it belies her claim to be on the side of ‘the little guy.’

      … in a debate she’d wipe the floor with Trump.

      I watched her debate Scott Brown; he had her on the ropes the entire time. I’ve seen her get flustered & tongue-tied when hit with tough questions from reporters. trump would eat her alive.

  39. Posted April 21, 2019 at 9:55 pm | Permalink


    Identity politics will kill any chance the Democratic Party has to win in 2020.

    The country is slightly to the right of center. The party closest to that point will win.

    In 2016 the republican and librarian parties got more votes then the democratic and green parties. Thus the total vote was slightly to the right of center.

    • Posted April 22, 2019 at 10:49 am | Permalink

      The Librarian party has been very quiet up till now.

  40. Steve Gerrard
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    A. The Russians’ use of identity politics may hurt the Democrats in 2020, unless they are prevented from interfering.

    B. Interesting Dem candidates so far: Warren, Harris, Buttigieg.

  41. danstarfish
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 3:51 am | Permalink

    A. I think identity politics will hurt the dems in 2020. I am just so very very tired of it being obsessively injected into everything even when it isn’t particularly relevant. I was despondent that instead of learning any lessons from 2016, the dems were all going to double down and alienate even more people.

    B. Buttigieg has me excited. I happened to hear a radio interview with him a week ago and it was striking. I felt hopeful for days afterward. Maybe we aren’t going to just hand Trump a re-election after all. He was interesting and clear and sincere. At first I thought he was a guest who was there for their interesting ideas, I remember being surprised when I realized he was a political candidate. Something about him was very refreshing and reminded me of Obama in 2008. He has a message of hope and yet he also comes across as intelligent and someone who has given the topics a lot of study and thought.

    Later I listened to Ezra Klein interview him and realized that he, Ezra, and I all had different opinions on what identity politics were. And I much preferred the version he was selling. It was more like what I thought identity politics were back in early 2008. It was more inclusive and avoided unnecessarily alienating people.

    Also, that he could get re-elected mayor with 80% of the vote. I get the impression that he knows how to appeal to the midwestern voters who voted for Obama, but switched to Trump in 2016. I think he could bring them back.

  42. KD
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    A. Identity politics will hurt the Democrats in 2020.

    The white working class constitutes about ~46 percent of eligible voters. They have relatively low turnout, meaning a successful galvanization of the WWC vote will swing an election.

    Heavy Democratic identity politics will push the WWC toward the GOP, and if militant enough, may even increase turnout. In contrast, if the Dems invest in a strategy that is non-threatening to WWC voters, you will get lower turnout and perhaps even pick up votes. Identity politics as a coalition is basically affluent white people + ethnic narcissists, and there simply aren’t enough to win a national election. Granted, the GOP does a good time of pushing the agenda of corporate donors at the expense of its voters, limiting its electoral appeal, but if they ever stopped being a country club and got serious about seizing power, the Democrats would be in trouble.

    Identity politics is mostly nonsense, in the sense that if we look at the “Latino” or “Latinx”, there is no such person. A Cuban is not a Guatemalan is not a Peruvian. A message that appeals to a Cuban is not going to appeal to a Guatemalan, and a message directed at “outreach” to “Hispanics” is not going to work the way it is supposed to. The problem of “racism” is that if you start putting people into categories and creating some idealization of how members of the category respond, you oversimplify. AA have a pretty cohesive identity and mostly vote the same way, but they are an electoral anomaly.

    B. Sanders has the highest likelihood to beat Trump. A corporate Democrat pushing ethno-narcissism is most likely to repeat the mistakes of America’s “Most Qualified Person to be President”.

    Identity politics is about shifting politics from substantive issues into a political census. Its only a “winner” if your groups can win the census. The downside is that the losers of the census realize they are permanently removed from political participation and often turn extremist (Tamil tigers?), and usually the winner plays with voter eligibility to insure the losers stay frozen out, and may even help with population transfers. Of course, if you are an ethno-narcissist, its all about you anyways, so it probably doesn’t matter how destructive your politics are.

  43. Posted April 27, 2019 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    The Dem candidate should reject identity politics, or at least not pander to them. I reject the idea that they can’t afford to do so. The Dem candidate will always be the best one for women and minorities, more so this time around for sure. Anti-Trump sentiment will be enough to get those voters to the polls. Dem supporters will beat the identity drum so that the candidate won’t have to.

    On the other hand, if the Dem candidate embraces identity politics, they risk alienating middle America somewhat like Clinton did. She wrapped herself in the “first woman President” blanket so tightly it appeared like she cared about little else.

  44. Andrew Tulloch
    Posted May 27, 2019 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    I’m Australian so I can’t really comment on the American issues. However, similar debates are occuring in Australia. We recently reelected the liberal party (the Australian equivalent of the Republican party) even though the polls predicted the Labor (Democrat equivalent) to win. The explanation is not 100% agreed on and it is complicated, but one complaint was the apparent ignoring of the working class from Labor in their policies. Regarding Identity politics, I’m actually quite sympathetic to the concept, but its current understanding does not focus, at least enough, on the working class. So if Identity politics is going to be employed, class has to remain a significant part of (I actually think class politics is a part of identity politics anyway)

%d bloggers like this: