MATTHEWS: Democratic Presidential Field Exposes the Folly of Obsessing Over Identity Politics

As their diverse presidential candidate field continues to expand, Democratic strategists are becoming increasingly frustrated with polling numbers that have consistently shown white males leading their female contenders.

Because of this, a growing number of journalists and interviewers have taken to asking non-minority candidates for president, including those not leading the pack, to acknowledge their “white privilege” and to commit to picking a female for their vice-presidential running mate.


“Spoiler alert: I’m a white man,” 2020 candidate Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) tweeted almost apologetically last week.

In the same tweet, Swalwell confirmed that he would ask “a woman to serve as VP” should he win the Democratic nomination for president.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), who is black, was even asked the VP question at a recent progressive women’s forum in Houston, TX. “I will have a woman running mate. To me it is really clear that we do that,” he answered to loud applause.

The Democratic party’s obsession with identity politics isn’t anything new. However, it has become more pronounced over the last several months as their presidential contenders strive to show that their track record demonstrates a willingness to bringing all voices to the table in spite of the fact that they were born white and/or a man.

But the various pledges to pick a woman as their second in command have not been enough for some Democrats.

Democratic strategist Alexis Grenell told one cable news network in March that all male candidates needed to bow out of the race because it’s time for a woman in the White House. “I’m over it. I’m over them all,” she said. “What they can really be doing is putting their resources behind these women.”

“I don’t understand why [Sen. Bernie Sanders] was running now when Elizabeth Warren, who’s his ideological twin, could really benefit from his support, his money, his movements,” Grenell ranted.

Liberal writer Matthew Yglesias was even more direct in demanding male candidates step aside. In response to Booker’s proclamation, Yglesias wrote: “The male candidate worth voting for would be the one who actually stands aside in favor of a woman he thinks would do a great job.”

Nothing says “I’m down with viewing a woman as my equal” like urging her male opponents to step aside so she can get ahead, right?

The Democratic party’s front and center focus on identity politics this election year demonstrates the folly of putting physical characteristics ahead of leadership qualifications in selecting candidates for higher office.

In spite of how the media and movers and shakers within the party feel about picking candidates based on their gender and/or race, rank and file Democrats who are being polled have consistently picked the people they feel are best qualified to be president.

If they felt one of the female candidates or one of the candidates of color in the race could do that, they’d be ahead in this race, not Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders. In spite of my philosophical disagreements with them, Democratic voters have shown a willingness to pick minority candidates who they thought could win an election.

Sadly, their party strategists are regressing with their demands that a minority candidate be picked this election cycle, regardless of qualifications.

Elections are about winning, not moral victories and “firsts.”  Democratic voters are showing they understand that this year much more so than their party leaders.

Stacey Matthews is a veteran blogger who has also written under the pseudonym Sister Toldjah and is a regular contributor to Red State and Legal Insurrection.