What Dems Must Not Do to Beat 45
Political pundits are always talking about what Democrats must do to win the upcoming presidential election. This column will tell Dems what not to do to take back the White House.
They must not insult black women by selecting a lesser quality white woman or man to be number two on the Democratic presidential ticket. Second, they must not take women for granted by presenting an all male ticket. Third, they must not run two moderate candidates thinking they can win over independents and angry white males who have lost their once stable and good paying factory jobs that have been outsourced to Mexico, India, and South America, to name a few. Finally, they must not believe that small thinking and tiny incremental programs and policy changes will motivate a demoralized Democratic base petrified of the chance that 45 might go another four years.
First, regarding insulting black women. Democrats must not take black women for granted. During the 2016 presidential election, about 96% of black women voted for Hilary Clinton. This propelled her forward. Does this mean black women will demand that a black woman be named to the Democratic ticket? No, but it does mean that unless a white running mate has a strong record of supporting issues of relevance to black women, like workplace disparity, criminal justice reform, real health care transformation, or is an undeniable superior candidate, black women might feel dissed and taken for granted. This could result in a diminished voter turnout that would spell doom for Democrats.
Sen. Kamala Harris and former GA State Rep. Stacey Abrams are two black women who present strong arguments for the vice presidency. Harris ran the largest State Office of the Attorney General and is the second black woman elected to the U.S. Senate. She is tough as nails, smart, and appealing to both black and suburban women. The downside is she’s from California and the Democrats already have a lock on the state.
Abrams is truly an ideal candidate and perfect match for Joseph Biden. She’s energetic, eloquent, and more progressive than Biden or Barack Obama. Most importantly, she has remained relevant since her razor thin loss to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. She has been in the middle of registering more black voters and ensuring that every vote counts. If the former Vice President or Sen. Bernie Sanders wins the nomination, they will need a younger partner who can excite the base and bring new voters to the polls.
If Sanders or Biden selects Harris or Abrams, then the issue of having a woman on the ticket goes away. But if they select another white male, in an attempt to achieve geographic balance or to appeal to angry white males, they run the risk of depressing the women vote. Women are intelligent voters who vote their interest. And they are fully aware that Hilary Clinton received over 3 million more votes than 45 (despite the protracted campaign against her for decades). Women in Georgia know that if Kemp had not used the power of his office to disenfranchise black voters, Abrams might very well have been the first black woman governor in the U.S.
Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Now Sen. Elizabeth Warren winning the nomination presents additional challenges for the vice president question. Can anyone imagine the viability of a women in the number one and number two slots? Perhaps. But, there is no shortage of qualified men of color to choose from– Cory Booker to Julian Castro. It would be risky for Warren to choose a more conventional and moderate running mate like Sen. Michael Bennett. It might not altogether tank the Dems chance to take back the White House, but it certainly won’t do much to inspire newer and more progressive voters thirsty for real change.
The New York Times just came out with its compromise endorsement for POTUS for the upcoming election: Senators Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar. This fence-straddling endorsement’s biggest problem is its attempt to leave open the door of a bankrupt gradualism and neoliberalism. Neoliberalism gives us a 50/50 vote, but given gerrymandering and bias in the Electoral College, a tied vote gives the nod to Republicans. This has been the reality in America at least since the U.S. Supreme Court put GW in office despite him losing the popular vote.
Democrats must shake up and excite their constituency by reaching young and new voters. They must also keep Republicans from purging registered voters from the voter rolls who have exercised their constitutional right to speak their truth to power by choosing not to vote. Ex-felons who have paid their debt to society must be allowed to vote. Finally, Dems must address the issues of Americans who have given up hope because of generational poverty, class oppression, and institutional racism at the hands of one after the other cruel Republican administrations and impotent, patronizing Democratic administrations.
Young people want a new non-racist, nonbinary, and more equable America where the top 1 percent does not possess 90 percent of the country’s wealth and power. This is why Bernie and Elizabeth resonate so strongly with them. Americans from underserved communities desire and need radical structural changes that will offer real opportunity to experience a high quality of living in a country that purports to be a modern democracy. This has implications for society delivering a real living wage that exceeds $15 per hour, quality pre-K-16 free, public education, and universal, affordable healthcare (not so called “private insurance” chosen by employers, controlled by big pharma/mega insurance companies/ giant health provider organizations—and gone when and if they lose their jobs.)
Democrats this election must go big or go home. For us, it is, as my grandmother used to say, time to “shit or get off the pot.”