White candidates in the Democratic presidential primary are racing to establish their “woke” credentials on racial issues as their voters increasingly demand they acknowledge “white privilege.”
Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke have all made comments acknowledging that the problems they’ve faced in life would have been far worse if they were people of color, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. While Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has yet to make an explicit statement on white privilege in the 2020 race, he made his views on the topic very clear in 2016. Democratic strategist Joel Payne, who worked on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2016, claims the issue has become a “woke litmus test” for white Democratic candidates.
“All candidates, especially nonethnic minority candidates, need to be fluent in the issues that matter most to black America — police brutality, criminal justice reform, reparations, social justice,” Payne told the AP.
The early days of Buttigieg’s campaign centered on many of his critics and supporters grappling with whether his homosexuality outweighed his being a white male. (RELATED: Buttigieg: I Would’ve Done Anything To Not Be Gay)
We can talk about how Buttigieg’s candidacy is groundbreaking, while also recognizing that he benefits from the gender and racial privileges that white men benefit from (including a 200+ year near-total monopoly on the presidency). Both things are happening at once.
— Jill Filipovic (@JillFilipovic) April 2, 2019
While the voters who care about these issues make up a relatively small group nationally, they hold far greater influence within the Democratic party. As a result, Democratic candidates have a large incentive to speak out against white and male privileges in order to win the primary. But once won, those same comments could hurt the nominee in the general election.
This incentive toward radicalization in the primaries is what Starbucks executive Howard Schultz cited in floating a potential presidential run as an independent. Democrats claim Schultz’ candidacy would spoil the election and hand President Donald Trump a second term, but Schultz disagrees. (RELATED: Howard Schultz Says Ocasio-Cortez’s Anti-Billioniare Comments Are ‘So Un-American’)
“If the Democrats decide in their wisdom to nominate a far-left person who is professing policies that resemble that of a socialist — that will be the spoiler,” Schultz said in a Fox News interview.
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