Full disclosure — I am everything I am about criticize: male, white, old, privileged, entitled, too-often angry.
I, for one, was appalled at Joe Biden’s attack on an Iowa voter who asked him critical questions about his son and his age. Biden, oddly unprepared for either challenge, was immediately angry, calling the voter, an elderly farmer, a “damn liar,” not giving a substantive response regarding his son, and justifying his place in the campaign solely on entitlement: “I’ve been around a long time and I know more than most people.” He challenged the man to pushups and an IQ test. The damn liar he should be challenging is the one in the White House.
I am embarrassed for my age, race, gender, and party. But not so the men around the table at Morning Joe — or Morning Joe (Biden), as I’ve taken to calling the show. They gave a rousing cheer to Biden’s performance, arguing this was just the kind of tough-guy spirit Biden should show to win, this being a fight rather than an election. Mika Brzezinski demurred, as is her wont: “I don’t like it [the video] but I think he’ll be a great president and he’ll win.” Thank goodness the BBC’s Katty Kay was at the table, as she dared criticize Biden for coming off like a fool. I spoke with women yesterday who said he came off as threatening, which is all too frighteningly familiar to them from men.
Please compare Biden’s performance when challenged by an elderly farmer with Nancy Pelosi’s when she was attacked by a right-wing Sinclair shill in reporter camouflage:
Pelosi responded with principle, reason, morality. Biden responded with anger, insult, bravado. What we need now in this nation is a leader who demonstrates the former, not the latter.
I supported Kamala Harris in this campaign for many reasons: her policies, her leadership, her experience, her prosecutorial zeal against Trump, her humanity — and, yes, her new and diverse perspective as a woman, a person of color, and the child of immigrants. Now that she is sadly out of the race, I’m asking myself whom I will support now. Yes, I will support the Democrat in the end. I will contribute, work for, and cheer whoever that is, and not just to work against Donald Trump — though that is reason enough.
But I am having difficulty with the field as it is, especially as it seems we will end up with a lily white debate stage the next time out (and the right is mocking Democrats for that). As I said earlier this week, I am angry that Democrats had a diverse field of candidates that was mansplained over by a parade of entitled white men. I am angry that media dismiss women and people of color and won’t question this in themselves. I am angry that Democrats are treating voters of color as pawns they can take for granted rather than listening to and giving voice to their issues and experiences.
I have a suggestion to improve coverage of the election and the campaign itself: I wish MSNBC would retire its old, white man of the evening, Chris Matthews, and replace him with a show featuring Jason Johnson, Tiffany Cross, Maria Hinojosa, Eddie Glaude Jr., Soledad O’Brien, Zerlina Maxwell, Maya Wiley, Karine Jean-Pierre, Joy Reid, Elie Mystal — so many wise people to choose from. Rather than having them on a round-robin guests or weekend hosts, give them a prime-time, daily show. Rather than treating their communities and issues as after-thoughts, put them at the center. Rather than taking voters of color for granted, listen to them. Give them the opportunity to challenge the candidates and the rest of media and to inform the rest of the electorate. The Democrats will count for victory on serving the needs of voters too long ignored, so don’t ignore them. Media will still reflexively if unconsciously exhibit their bias by constantly seeking out and trying to analyze the angry, white, male voter. Someone can do better.
Not that you should care, but here’s where I am.
If need be I will vote for, contribute to, and work for Biden if he is the nominee and not reluctantly as I know we will end up in agreement about most issues. But I worry that we will end up embarrassed by our own angry and increasingly doddering old man in office. I blame him for the whitening and aging of this field. He is not my first choice.
I respect Warren and think she will bring strong, fresh leadership with a moral vision to the office. But I worry that her policies will be be seen as radical by just enough voters to lose. I also think her attack on tech is cynical and dangerous. Don’t @ me for that.
Bernie? I agree with Hillary. Don’t @ me.
Mayor Pete is smart and impressively eloquent. But he is inexperienced and his education in communities of color has been too much on stage, for show.
That’s the top of the field.
Bloomberg? He’s an able technocrat. But his re-education in stop-and-frisk is also too much on stage, for show. And we do not need billionaires buying office.
Steyer, Yang, and Williamson are novelty candidates. Don’t @ me.
That leaves me with my best but long-shot hopes. I like Cory Booker and will donate to his campaign. The same for Julián Castro. And I include Amy Klobuchar in this list of the ones I’d like to see rise. These are candidates I wish were now front and center because they bring the perspectives we need. And maybe there’s still time. I won’t accept the pundits’ predictions, not until voters vote. Now I have some new hats and hoodies to buy.