Finley: Dems better off with pink wave than gray beards
Women candidates and voters propelled Democrats to huge wins in 2018, enabling the party to recapture the U.S. House and take over key offices in a number of states, including Michigan.
But the Year of the Woman is fizzling as the 2020 Democratic presidential race takes shape. Despite a number of well qualified women candidates for the party's nomination, right now it's a two-man race — a two old, white man race.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, 77, and former Vice President Joe Biden, 76, are pacing well ahead of perhaps the most diverse field of candidates — and the most total — ever presented by a party.
The current list of 22 contenders includes six women, two African Americans, the first-ever Hindu candidate, a gay millennial, an Hispanic mayor and an Asian tech wizard.
Yet Democrats so far are ho-hum about all that diversity, placing their early bets on the same old stuff.
In the most recent compilation of polls, Real Clear Politics has Biden at 29 percent and Sanders at 22. Far behind them are California Sen. Kamala Harris at 8 percent, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 7 percent and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 6 percent.
It seems odd that a Democratic Party newly invigorated by women and other groups that have been marginalized in the political process would pin its hopes for 2020 on the past. Women, who saw Hillary Clinton come so close to becoming the first female president in 2016, at the moment aren't turning to one of the women senators in the race — Harris, Warren, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York — to carry that long-deferred hope across the finish line.
The two ticket-topping men seem particularly strange choices for this new era. The #metoo awakening should be an automatic disqualifier for Gropin' Joe Biden. And yet many Democratic women are suspending the zero-tolerance stance on sexual misconduct to enable his candidacy to go forward.
Why? What's he bring to the table that, say, Klobuchar, a moderate senator with solid credentials, doesn't? Biden, expected to enter the race officially Thursday, says he has the best chance of beating Trump. But why don't Democrats trust the 2018 experience, when women turned out in overwhelming numbers to vote for women candidates?
If it's all about electability, Sanders shouldn't even be in the game. Yes, his fanatical base will speak loudly in the Democratic primaries. But his nutty socialism isn't going to sell to a general electorate. If it's a true progressive Democrats are looking for, why not a Harris or Warren?
Presumably, a woman will end up on the ticket if Biden or Sanders win the presidential nomination. But is a supporting role really what women have come this far to accept?
It's curious that Democratic women, after all they've done to energize their party and shape its direction over the past two years, are willing to turn the clock back and watch two really old schoolers carry the banner again.
Democrats can't count on anti-Trump sentiment to give them victory in 2020. Their best chance for the White House is to keep riding the Pink Wave that built such momentum in 2018.
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