I’m listening to the analysis on CNN after Elizabeth Warren withdrew from the race for president today. A large part of the talk is that now there are only two old white men left. Part of it’s being blamed on sexism. It may be. I don’t know. Here’s what I’ve observed.
Disclosure: I am a fifty-nine year-old white man.
Take one: Joe Biden. He is in this now, as the curent leader, entirely because of blacks, African-Americans, in South Carolina. He was left for dead and South Carolina resurrected his candidacy. Corey Booker and Kamala Harris are gone. I don’t know why they weren’t supported. There was talk about Harris’ record on crime. I don’t know. I just know that African-Americans chose Joe.
Take two: Bernie Sanders. He’s where is his in large part because of Latin Americans. LatinX voters are why Bernie won in Nevada. They are his supporters in California and Texas.
Two old white guys are where they are because people of color backed them. Is it because of racism? Maybe. It’s possible people of color voted for the old white guys because they’ve seen the hate of the past four years and believe only a white man can beat Trump. As much as people like me, white men, write about and protest against Trump’s policies, it’s people of color that are hurt the most. Did they vote for white men because of the racism they saw and white guys being the way out? I can’t say.
Is the same true for women? Did they vote for the two old white guys because they believed the country wouldn’t vote for a woman? Perhaps. Here is what I saw. My first commitment to a candidate was to Elizabeth Warren. I like her, have for years, since I saw her more than ten years ago on Bill Maherm explaining TARP. I like her attention to detail. But she eventually lost me. I’d watch her on CNN responding to a question with talking points, avoiding the questions asked. Over time she just started to look like another politician and I wanted more. Today I realized the biggest reason Warren never caught on. She has a plan for everything. Great. But when she explains her plans she sounds like a college professor giving a lecture. She never connected to the people she wants to help. She had plans, but she couldn’t connect them to the people they’d help, she couldn’t talk to those in need in a way that suggested she understands, can relate to them.
How did this connection miss? Look to a Trump rally. A lot of supporters of Trump feel they live in a country that has left them behind. It could be a job lost to technology, to international trade, or for another reason. They live in fear of losing a home, of not being able to provide for their children, of being one paycheck away from disaster. And what happens with his rallies? They don’t feel so alone, they’re connected to others. Warren had plans, but she didn’t connect.
When I moved on to Klobuchar it was because I saw someone who spoke in a way that Trump’s supporters would hear. The issue seemed to be that I may have been the only one who saw that.
Now both Warren and Klobuchar are out. Women didn’t vote for them any more than people of color supported Booker and Harris. Sexism? Perhaps. It could be fear that a woman can’t beat Trump, a look back at Hillary losing and concern that nominating another woman would lead to a loss in November and four more years of hate.
So was it sexism and racism that left us with two old white guys vying for the nomination of the Democratic Party? Yeah, I can see that it might have been. But it shouldn’t be a fifty-nine year old white man to say yes or no any more that it should be a white commentator on CNN saying it. Ask the people who voted why they chose who they did. It wasn’t people who look like me who put Bernie and Joe where they are. It’s a lot of people that look nothing like me.