I haven't had one of my debate articles since the Electoral College ones, so, I figured, why don't I do one now? Former Vice President Joe Biden is the clear frontrunner in the Democratic primary, and other polling data suggests that Biden voters aren't generally enthusiastic about Biden per se, they just believe that Democrats need to select the candidate most capable of dethroning President Donald Trump, and Biden is that candidate. For example, when voters were asked to pick the Democratic candidate they would vote for if they automatically just became president, Senator Elizabeth Warren was ahead. In this post, I will explore the problems with that philosophy.
Electability Discriminates Against Non-WASPs*
In politics, people tend to overcorrect for their losses, which is is happening right now from the 2016 election. Why did Hillary Clinton lose?** Different people offer a variety of reasons, but one that's subliminally present in political analysis is this: because she was a woman.
No one is going to say this outright, but there's a pattern of when someone different from a white man loses, people mentally blame it on that, and don't what to repeat it. So let's play it safe, they say, and revert to the "white man" option.
According to this article written by Clare Malone for FiveThirtyEight, "The chief concern [against candidates such as Kamala Harris] seems not to be personal belief, but concern for the personal beliefs of others: 'some people in our country aren’t ready to vote for a woman'; 'I don’t think she can win because I agree with her too much.'" Additionally, a study of congressional elections showed that women win at the same rate as men in general elections. There's a stereotype of the Midwestern person who is subliminally sexist, racist, homophobic, etc. and we should cater to this "moderate." I believe that we shouldn't focus on these so-called moderates, AKA bigots, at the expense of non-WASPs in our country. There's a thin line between saying we should cater to people with bigoted ideals and having bigoted ideals ourselves.
We Can't Afford to Wait for the Perfect Year
Another common defense of the electability idea is something along the lines of, Trump is a really bad president, so it's important that we defeat him. This election is not the time, they say, to focus on the candidate we truly believe is the best.
However, when is the perfect year? In other years, the defense will be that there is a strong opponent and we can't let it slip through our fingers. Or perhaps something else. I think Democratic candidate and Senator Cory Booker said it best:
"This election, I get a little frustrated, I have to admit to everybody. A lot of people want to say this eating contest is just about getting rid of Donald Trump. That’s the floor, not the ceiling."
Additionally, this simulation suggests that people are always happier if they go with what they truly believe instead of the "strategic" choice. So there's that.
The Sexual (or Touching, or whatever) Issue
There were also some allegations of how Biden's sexual harassment/touching/etc. was offensive. Regarding this, I think it's important to remember that it's not always about the intention, it's about how it's perceived. In real life, it's not the thought that counts. I think there's some level of hypocrisy within the Democratic party about how this is treated. I'm not going to ramble too long about this, since it doesn't tie into my main points about electability...
I read Promise Me, Dad recently, which did tell me that Biden has a strong sense of empathy. He often follows the Golden Rule (Treat other people how you would want to be treated) at the expense of the Platinum Rule (Treat other people how they would want to be treated) which is a major character thing.
However, it's worth noting that there's somewhat of a half standard for men with scandals compared to women. For example, Elizabeth Warren's DNA test was blown way out of proportion when compared to the effects it legitimately has on Warren's candidacy. She had an embarrassing scandal, sure, but I would say it's not as bad or on the same level as Biden's issue. You can make a similar case with Amy Klobuchar and the comb.*** Not that these are OK per se (which the comb is) but that they were overreported compared to Biden.
With that out of the way, Mayor Pete Buttigieg is my personal favorite candidate so far. He's charismatic, well-spoken, and I think a fitting example of what an American should be, as a Rhodes Scholar and a military veteran. In that way, he would be a great role model for our nation's youth. He also got a standing ovation at a Fox News town hall. Additionally, he would be the first (openly) gay president, a major step forward for LGBTQ+ rights in our country.
I mentioned Cory Booker above. He is intelligent, passionate, and qualified, being a sitting senator and having been the mayor of Newark, New Jersey. Booker's campaign centers around several key issues, most notably climate change, and is prepared to make a real impact in that area. He would also be a great choice.
Senator Elizabeth Warren was my pick for most of the last few years, before I learned about Buttigieg. She has many detailed policy proposals, and I have a very clear idea of what she would do if elected. I trust Warren to make a real difference in America. She would no doubt be a highly competent leader. I would also support her emphatically.
There are additional candidates as well that would be strong voices for America, such as Kamala Harris (who definitely stood out at the debate), Amy Klobuchar, and Jay Inslee. You can also make a case for why Joe Biden is a better candidate than the other Democrats. My point here is that, for the reasons listed above, we should compare Democratic primary candidates to other Democratic primary candidates, not to Trump. Biden's appeal seems to stem from the fact that he is "electable," but if you prefer Biden to the rest of the Democratic field, that's fine with me. My problem is when you vote Biden because you think he's the most electable.
Thanks for reading what I wrote. And by the way, Buttigieg is pronounced "boot edge edge."
P.S. For any of you who play Magic: The Gathering, my friend recently started a Magic blog that updates on Saturday over at archiveangler.wixsite.com/mysite. The first article is about the history of slugs in the game. If you play, I strongly suggest that you head over and subscribe.
*WASP traditionally stands for White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, but here I'm basically using it as a stand-in for a straight, white, Christian male.
**There are actually a variety of reasons why Clinton lost. In an election that close, any one factor shifting could have led to her winning. I personally think James Comey is one of the biggest scapegoats, but it's dishonest to focus on one at the expense of the others.
**For what it's worth, I would have done the same thing. If you don't know the story, essentially Klobuchar was a bit mean to one of her staffers (but not really that mean, just sort of exasperated) and ended up eating her lunch with a comb.