Joe Biden might seem like the 2020 candidate of anachronism. He’s old in a party that skews young; a white, straight candidate courting an increasingly diverse electorate; an old-school liberal in a party moving to the left; and more conventionally credentialed than hot commodities such as South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Biden isn’t entirely alone in these qualities. Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) are old and white. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) is running on competence. The bigger question for Biden is this: does the Democratic Party’s “Great Awokening” doom an admittedly handsy politician whose past positions on racial issues are decidedly outdated.
For the uninitiated (and for the purposes of this column), to be woke is to declare oneself alert to manifestations of injustice, particularly around identity politics. Broadly, wokeness might indicate a belief that problems such as mass incarceration, the racial wealth gap, the gender pay gap and unpunished sexual assault are features, not bugs, of our culture and institutions, and that collective action is necessary to dismantle the structures that promote and preserve these imbalances.