Democrats plan to go all-in on identity politics in 2020 — as soon as they can establish their hierarchy of identities. Politico reports today that Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who has made his sexual orientation a key selling point in his campaign to become the first openly gay president, might ironically find himself the victim of identity politics. Lesbians, it turns out, are less interested in sexual orientation than in gender when it comes to electoral justice next year:
Campbell Spencer, a lesbian and political consultant, moved to Washington in the 1990s to work in LGBTQ advocacy. She wooed gay and lesbian voters for Al Gore, worked a stint in the Obama White House and now serves on the board of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, which this year issued its first-ever endorsement of a presidential candidate: Pete Buttigieg.
But Spencer herself will not be voting for Buttigieg.
“Mayor Pete, he’s a trailblazer,” Spencer said in an interview. “But I’m one of these women who thinks we are way overdue for having a woman in the White House. That’s a lens through which I’m going to filter my decision.”
Buttigieg, the openly gay mayor of South Bend, Ind., has drawn notable support from gay voters and donors for his presidential bid. But interviews with a dozen prominent Democrats in the LGBTQ community spotlight a remarkable collision of goals and ideals in the community of lesbian political activists this year. As the 2020 field slowly winnows, people are divided over which glass ceiling to break first.
Call it a Kanye West moment for identity groups in this cycle. Yo Pete, I’m really happy for you, Im’a let you finish, but HILLARY …
“It feels like a slap in the face to just go directly to the white gay guy, when for decades you’ve been trying to elect a woman and it didn’t happen last time,” said one lesbian Democrat who works in national politics. “If Pete Buttigieg is elected it won’t feel like a vindication of Hillary Clinton. If a woman is elected, it will.”
Er … why would this election be a “vindication of Hillary Clinton” in any form? Even if Elizabeth Warren won the nomination and the general election, that wouldn’t be a “vindication” of Clinton. Hillary had her own chance to win an election, a chance handed to her by the DNC on a silver platter, and she blew it. And one of the ways in which Hillary blew it was by making the election about identity politics and her own entitlement when voters wanted the election to be about themselves.
In fact, most voters still labor under the delusion that primaries are all about finding the best person to elect, in this case into the most powerful position in the country, rather than a nominee for Symbol of the Quadrennium. Even among Democratic voters, identity politics is not terribly attractive, as Monmouth discovered earlier this year:
Race and gender do not seem to be important factors for Democratic voters when considering who the party should choose to run against Trump. Fully 87% say the race of the nominee does not matter. Just 5% say it would be better for Democrats to nominate a person of color, which is offset by 6% who say it would actually be better for the party to nominate a white candidate. Similarly, 77% say the gender of the nominee does not matter. Just 7% say it would be better for Democrats to nominate a woman, while slightly more (12%) say it would actually be better for the party to nominate a man.
And yet, Democratic leadership and activists remain obsessed with identity politics. That nearly touched off a civil war earlier this year when the Frosh Squad accused Nancy Pelosi and other party leaders for being racist in criticizing them, and this Politico story suggests that the Identity Wars may yet start up again. If Democrats are determined to appeal to the 7% at the expense of the 87%, they’ll lose in 2020 no matter who they nominate. Donald Trump may have many faults, but he knows how to make elections about empowering voters rather than entitling politicians.
It’s not just on the national level, either. Six of the Democrats running for the Senate nomination in Colorado sent a letter to the DSCC excoriating the decision to recruit and endorse John Hickenlooper to run against Cory Gardner. How dare they pass over women in an attempt to win an election!
Six of the women vying for the Democratic nomination in Colorado’s 2020 U.S. Senate race sent a letter Monday to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and its leadership urging them to reconsider their early endorsement of John Hickenlooper in the race.
“We are writing today to urge the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to reconsider its early endorsement of former Governor John Hickenlooper. All of us, like many women in Colorado and across the country, have seen well-qualified women passed over for male candidates in the workplace time and again,” wrote Sen. Angela Williams, Alice Madden, Diana Bray, Stephany Rose Spaulding, Lorena Garcia and Michelle Ferrigno Warren to the DSCC, Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto.
They sent the letter on Monday, which was Women’s Equality Day 2019 in the U.S.