Extremely white. Extremely male. Extremely privileged. This is the current, overwhelmingly large, crop of Democratic candidates for 2020. While in 2016, the Republican field of 17 candidates seemed comically large (forcing the RNC and the networks to arrange two-tiered debates), the current Democratic field of 23 candidates (and growing) makes the Republican 2016 crop look tame and well-managed by comparison.
But for the party that prides itself on its own version of key buzzwords like “diversity” and “inclusion”, the field is shaping up to be one big diversity disappointment. That is, of course, unless you consider two septuagenarian white males with a combined six decades of insider DC experience to be particularly diverse.
Joe Biden, currently 76, would be 77 on 2020 election day, and 78 by inauguration day.
His colleague Bernie Sanders, currently 77, would be 79 by election and inauguration day.
This would make Trump, currently 72, look like a spring chicken by comparison.
Both Biden and Sanders would be, by far, the oldest presidents to assume office, in the history of the United States, topping Ronald Reagan, who was 73 upon assuming the office in 1981.
For the social justice warriors and socialists who comprise a large portion of the Democratic Party’s activist base, this has to be a strange turn of events. Undoubtedly, these types loathe Biden with a passion, and see him as an extension of the dreaded HRC-wing of the Democratic Party which successfully stymied Bernie’s efforts in 2016.
Yet, there is a fundamental, and potentially lethal, difference for them with the current crop of 23 candidates.
Getting disaffected and alienated voters to rally around Bernie in 2016 was a relatively easy task, as there were no other options. The case was simple. Are you fed up with DC insiders and politics as usual? Do you want to send a message to the “establishment” wing of the Democratic Party and the big banks and financial institutions that have been lining their pockets?
Well, vote for Bernie Sanders, then!
The independent democratic socialist senator from Vermont, who was not even a member of the Democratic Party, won 43% of the votes in the Democratic primary, and 23 states, with a whopping 13.2 million votes in total. That is impressive.
Now, for a party that spends a good deal of its time talking about women, minorities, gays, lesbians, transgenders, and the economic, social, and political inequality that hampers these groups, they are faced with a very difficult choice.
Do they attempt to derail Biden? With Biden it is increasingly looking like “a coronation, not a nomination.”
Biden is at a whopping 34.7% in Real Clear Politics poll average, with Sanders at half of his primary vote share, at 17.7%. Between them that is 52.4% of the primary vote, leaving the other 21 candidates to scrap for any possible traction or momentum.
The next tier of candidates includes the hapless Elizabeth Warren at 9.8%, the faltering Kamala Harris at 8.0% (once seen as the frontrunner soaking up much of the HRC campaign infrastructure), and the flavor of the month, current South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg at 6.2%.
It’s safe to say that these are the five candidates with any realistic chance at winning the nomination at this point.
Shooting star Beto O’Rourke has long since burned out, and once promising candidates such as Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, and Andrew Yang might as well throw in the towel already.
The hard-left activist base is in real pain: what do they do? They can’t stomach Biden. They love Bernie, but know (most of them hopefully) that he could never win. Do they back Elizabeth Warren who has moved even further to the left of Bernie on some key economic issues? Do they turn to the one candidate (Kamala Harris) who offers some diversity (real diversity, not Elizabeth Warren’s supposed Cherokee blood), in her bid to attempt to unite the establishment and Bernie wings of the party? Or do they place their faith in the one newcomer, the one “wild card” who has captivated imaginations and gotten donors to open their checkbooks? (Pete Buttigieg.)
Here is the very likely reality. Biden has the nomination sewn up. He is leading in every national poll. He is leading in every poll of New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Carolina. Barring some unforeseen collapse of epic proportions, it is hard to see any scenario in which he will not be the nominee. He is greatly helped by the fact that Sanders and Warren explicitly appeal to the exact same type of Democratic Party voter, and will eat into each other’s base of support.
For the 22 candidates who are not Joe Biden, it is a race for a vice presidential running mate invitation. Half of them will be gone by February, unable to raise money, and polling in the 1% to 3% range (or less).
For those who long for diversity and inclusion the difficult reality is this: the Democratic nominee will be a 78 year old white Christian male who is the ultimate Washington DC insider. So much for diversity.