Cory Booker moans that the Democrats are “spiraling towards a debate stage that could have six people with no diversity whatsoever.” This statement is flatly false. The six Dems who have locked up places on the debate stage are Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, and Tom Steyer.
On this list are two women, a gay male, and a Jew. Clearly, it is a diverse group.
To say that it contains “no diversity whatsoever” is to read women, gays, and Jews out of the identity politics game. Heretofore, only Jews have been read out.
Two more candidates — Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard — aren’t far from qualifying for the next debate. They are of Asian origin. Does Booker deem Asian-Americans non-diverse?
What Booker means is that there may be no black and Latino candidates on the debate stage. Kamala Harris would have been, but she dropped out of the race. Whose fault is that?
Booker was on previous debate stages. He didn’t do well enough, either there or on the campaign trail, to secure, as of now, a spot on the next stage. Neither did Julian Castro. Whose fault is that?
In reality, the “diverse” candidates probably wouldn’t have made it as far as they have were it not for their racial or ethnic identity. Booker, an inauthentic junior Senator from New Jersey, outlasted Kirsten Gillibrand, an inauthentic junior Senator from New York with more congressional experience and a strong feminist record. Would Booker have done so if he were white? Probably not.
Kamala Harris, with less than three years of experience in the Senate, made it to the top tier of the race, albeit briefly. Would Harris have made a mark if she were white? Probably not.
Julian Castro, a former mayor and low level cabinet member, has done considerably better than a number of white male Senators and Governors. Would he have done so if he were white, rather than Latino? Probably not.
The other point to be made is that, given the low threshold for getting on the next debate stage, Booker and Castro could have qualified had they been attractive to voters in their respective minority groups. African-Americans make up a large chunk of the Democratic electorate. Booker could have gained the stage without a single white supporter if he had made significant inroads among blacks.
Similarly, Castro would have needed little, if any, white support had he been the preferred candidate among Latino voters.
In a sense, then, Booker’s grievance is with black voters (and, if he considers Latinos “diverse,” with Latino voters, as well). It’s not a grievance that should cause any hand wringing.
But Democrats instinctively wring their hands over this kind of stuff. As Steve likes to say, pass the popcorn.