Take your pick but you can only pick one
Texas Insider Report: WASHINGTON D.C. There have been stories here and there asking why Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden sit atop poll after poll in the diverse Democrat field of presidential candidates. In this age of #MeToo and the need for Democrats to cobble together a coalition of minorities and younger voters why do these two men continue to get the most press and most support in the polls?
Article after article keeps hailing the diversity" of the 2020 Democrat Presidential field. More female candidates more minority candidates and for the first time an openly gay candidate running in a national campaign.
However for all the praise being heaped there remains an undercurrent of resentment that the polls and conversation continue to be dominated by two septuagenarian white men and that includes from some within the Democrat Party.
First a recent article from Yahoo News entitled Despite Record Diversity 70-Something White Men Rule 2020 Race questioned why Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders seem to have sucked all the oxygen from the other candidates:
The presidential race itself is historically diverse:
- 6 female Candidates
- 3 African Americans
- A Hispanic former Cabinet Member
- An Asian-American
- A Hindu Congresswoman and
- A gay Military-Veteran Mayor...
- 9 Contenders are under 50 years of age
The 2020 campaign calls for a new generation of leadership" candidate Pete Buttigieg the Indiana mayor who at 37 is less than half Bidens age said recently.
And yet it is the two septuagenarians who currently dominate the nominations landscape with Biden at 29 and Sanders at 23 in the latest RealClearPolitics polling average.
No one else is in double digits.
The White House has relished the irony.
Old white male career politicians like Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden is not exactly what the Democratic Party had in mind for 2020 when theyre running all these different folks who are talking about identity politics and what makes them different" counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway told Fox.
Of course the current White House is tickled to see Bernie and Biden floating to the top of the Democratic field. Donald Trump is a member of the septuagenarian white male club as well if Democrats fail to nominate a younger more vibrant candidate to the 2020 campaign that issue is basically taken off the table.
Democrats would be unable in theory to make the needed arguments to rekindle the Obama coalition of 2008 and 2012.
The Democratic candidates with the more traditional profiles Biden and Sanders each of whom has run for president before have the strongest name recognition.
That has significant influence on polling at this point" Kelly Dittmar an expert at the Center for American Women & Politics told AFP.
Unlike recent Congressional Elections Presidential politics has been the most dominated by men and masculinity for all of our history."
Dittmar said that is true not just in who inhabits the office but in the norms of behavior and expectations voters place in presidential leaders.
A woman of course has made the case that its possible to shatter that presidential shield of masculinity as Hillary Clinton did when she won more popular votes than Trump in 2016.
At this point so early in the race it could be a mixture of name recognition coupled with a strong desire on the part of Democrats to be victorious in 2020. With a name like Biden on the ticket many Democratic voters see Donald Trumps defeat as more likely than with a name like Kamala Harris Pete Buttigieg or Elizabeth Warren.
So if Bernie and Biden are building their polling leads on name recognition what about the general coverage of the race by major media outlets? How does that coverage reflect the diversity of the field?
The answer to that question depends on who you ask but there are some female Democratic activists who are very displeased with the attention that Biden has received since announcing last week:
Why is Biden 76 being lauded in the U.S. media theyre all wondering while multiple female candidates with less baggage and better ideas struggle to get attention at all?
Joe Biden twice failed to win a bid for the presidency and yet here we are third times a charm?" said Molly Wink a Colorado voter.
Can you imagine what would happen if Hillary had decided to run again? She would have been lambasted" she added.
Several news outlets immediately dubbed Biden the grownup" in the race insulting the fabulous women and people of color who are also running" feminist author Leta Hong Fincher said on Twitter.
Bidens coverage may be explained in part by the poll lead he walked into. The broader Democratic electorate is hankering for a moderate candidate some polls show and that apparently means a white man who harkens back to a gentler pre-Trump era.
But as the USs 2020 election plays out its also worth examining who the journalists are who are covering it and trying to figure out how much of the male candidates popularity is a self-fulfilling media prophecy.
The author of that piece Heather Timmons argues that its newsroom sexism that has created the situation where male candidates in the Democrat primary are receiving better coverage than their female counterparts:
According to an annual study by the Womens Media Center published in January men had the clear majority of bylines on U.S. elections in 2018 in print and newswires including the Associated Press and Reuters. In online election coverage male bylines outnumbered womens by three-to-one.
In fact despite prominent American women journalists in the White House press room or on the front lines the news on any subject that most Americans read is still crafted and delivered mostly by men the study found.
The journalists covering the 2020 race are also probably whiter than the voters theyre writing for American newspapers are overwhelmingly more white than the population of the cities where they are based the 2018 American Society of News Editors survey shows.
No one has broken U.S. election coverage down by race of the reporters or editors involved.
According to Timmons female Democratic candidates or perhaps even gay Democratic candidates simply dont stand a chance because the press is either ignoring them or focusing on their flaws rather than their strengths.
As a result readers (who are also voters) consume this content and build up certain candidates in their minds over other candidates. In this case the less-known minority candidates become less relevant and the male candidates in the race get all the coverage.
In the end the prophecy keeps repeating according to Timmons.
Too Early To Complain?
What if Democrats simply want to win in 2020 and feel that Bernie or Biden give them the best shot.
Many Democratic voters may be thinking they could nominate a minority female candidate such as Kamala Harris and maybe they would even like to but what if she loses? Would the virtue-signaling be enough to justify nominating a weaker candidate?
What if the candidate is only perceived as weaker based on the things Timmons outlined in the article mentioned above? Thats a rabbit hole discussion to go down.
Weve already discussed the battle lines drawn between socialism and capitalism within the 2020 Democratic field but the other social battle lines include ageism and sexism.
But the question remains: Do you have to pick which prejudicial notion to accept and which to discard in the 2020 Democrat Presidential Primary? Is it acceptable to be for or against a candidate based on their age? Their Gender? Their Ethnicity or Sexuality?
Take your pick because according to some observers in the politics of today you cant be for one thing without being against something else.