Now that the Democrat Party has firmly and unwaveringly embraced progressive identity politics, it has become abundantly clear that 2020 candidates who don’t rank near the top of the left’s hierarchy of victimhood are at an incredible disadvantage as they seek their party’s nomination.
California Sen. Kamala Harris noted as much without naming names during a campaign event in Georgia on Sunday when she suggested that it was time for the older members of the party to “pass the baton” to younger Democrat standard-bearers.
Not so subtle
Harris addressed an assembled crowd at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the home church of civil rights icon Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and used King’s legacy to help bolster her own argument by noting how young he was when he began leading the civil rights movement.
“We stand on the shoulders of great men and women who came before us and I think of it as being a relay race, young leaders, where they came before us, and they were running the relay race, and they had the baton, and then they passed that baton to us,” said Harris.
“And the question for our lives will be, what do we do during that period of time?” she asked.
Passing the baton
That rhetorical question was followed with a thinly-veiled swipe at the older white Democratic candidates — presumably including former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren — and a half-joking suggestion that it was time for them to step aside and make way for the next generation of younger women and minorities such as herself.
“And, I’ll just say to the older leaders, that it also becomes question of let’s also know when to pass the baton,” said Harris in reference to her relay race analogy.
Harris, the 54-year-old daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, was obviously drawing a contrast between herself and older Democrats like the 76-year-old Biden, 77-year-old Sanders and 69-year-old Warren, all of whom are very white — Warren’s 1/1024th Native American heritage notwithstanding.
Trailing Biden and Sanders
Considering the Democrat Party’s unrelenting obsession with identity politics, it stands to reason that the race and ethnicity of the various 2020 candidates will become a central issue for primary voters to ponder over the next year, and there is no doubt that Harris will attempt to use the issue as a wedge to siphon support from any candidates who stand between her and the nomination.
The Real Clear Politics average of polls recently put Harris in a distant third place among 2020 candidates, with just 10 percent support. Early front-runners Biden and Sanders drew 29.6 and 24.2 percent support, respectively.
Harris’ remarks, carefully worded though they may have been, were nevertheless clear shots across the bows of Biden, Sanders, and to a lesser extent, Warren, and in essence sent the message that older white candidates, particularly men, no longer had a place at the front of the line.
But how Harris’ ageist and racist shots at Biden and Sanders play with the rest of the Democratic base outside of those who focus intently on such issues remains to be seen. It could end up backfiring on her in the long run.