One of the major criticisms of the 2020 presidential run has been its lack of diversity among the candidates. When the race for the Democratic nomination began, the field was the largest and most diverse ever seen in regards to both race and gender. However, as the primaries heat up, those remaining vastly seem to be of one majority, white and male, with a few exceptions.
And nowhere was that majority seen so clearly than in the most recent Democratic primary debate. Of the twelve candidates still in the field, only six appeared for the debate, all of whom were white. And only two were not of the male persuasion.
For candidates like Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris from California, this an outrage. In the year 2019 and now 2020, identity politics have become just about everything for the Democratic party. So why is it that these identities are so lowly represented?
Kamala Harris, upon dropping out of the race, blamed the American public for her loss. She claimed that by not showing her support, they proved that our nation was clearly not ready for a black woman to be president. However, we aren’t so sure it has to do with her demographic so much as her own character flaws.
Cory Booker, as well as several other candidates, have an altogether different idea on the lack of diversity. Booker blames the Democratic National Committee or DNC itself. He says that he is “very concerned” with the current line-up and urges America to “find a way as a party, as a nation, both parties, to understand that we are a diverse nation.”
Booker told CBS, “I still remember the reaction when Kamala Harris, dropped off the stage, amongst black women in my life. It was almost like, ‘Wait a minute, here’s a woman that won in California twice, who has been extraordinary, and she couldn’t even get to Iowa. How could we have a situation that is creating that kind of dynamic?’ We have got to find a way as a party, as a nation, both parties, to understand that we are a diverse nation.”
The basis of the argument is nothing new for Booker, who has complained about the diversity issue since the onset of the race, it seems. But after Harris’ withdrawal, and now his own, it has become a much larger problem for him.
And we have to agree; it doesn’t look good for the Democratic Party.
So that is precisely why DNC chair Tom Perez appeared on CNN’s New Day on Wednesday to discuss the issue and defend his group’s ideas.
Host John Berman asked Perez, ‘What’s wrong with this picture?” To which he explained that the DNC had done just about everything possible to ensure that the party and its debates were as diverse as possible. He said that they had even set a “frankly low bar throughout the campaigns.”
He and others in the organization were “proud of that… And as a result of that, we did have the most diverse field in American history.” But, as Perez went on to say, as the election comes ever-closer, that bar must be ever so slowly raised, and so it has.
He stated, “But we made the rules, they were very transparent, they’re very inclusive, and we can’t change the rules midstream because there’s a candidate that I wish were on but they didn’t make the debate stage.”
And he does have a point. Rules shouldn’t be changed just to include one particular person or another, no matter what their ethnicity. Booker claims the party is more worried about efficiency than diversity. But as Perez alludes to, that is precisely what it should be doing.
Yes, diversity in any group, party, or nation is vital and the key to their success. However, it does not mean that one should simply look at skin color alone. A person should be judged by their character, by their accomplishments and their failures, not on what they look like.
After all, isn’t that the argument about racial inclusion anyway.
And if we, or a party, allow exceptions to the rule based on color or ethnicity, then we are playing into a huge double standard.
No, it isn’t easy to see a stage filled with people of all one race and say these are the best of the best. But the alternative, allowing people that don’t qualify, would be even worse.