There are enough tugs-of-war playing out inside the Democratic Party to keep a multi-franchise, company picnic busy for an entire summer. We’re not talking about which of the umpteen gazillion candidates to nominate. That’s the easy part: quarrelsome, bothersome, nettlesome, toothsome and gruesome, but easy.
Much tougher questions abound concerning how far left to pull the party for the next election. Do they advocate Medicare For All? Some fervently say yes while others ardently say no. Free college? The New Green Deal? African-American reparations? Should NASA continue sending astronauts into space? How about sending Trump to the sun? To be honest, there’s general agreement on that.
Democrats also need to figure out a way to tamp down their tendency to eat their own. Robust policy debates are one thing, but gouging huge gaping holes in each other for momentary hand-holds can prove to be awfully inviting to circling sharks. The ones that haven’t been sent to the sun, that is.
Additionally, the Democrats find themselves saddled with a significant white man problem. Multiple white man problems, actually. You could say that the party responsible for civil rights is now handcuffed by and to it.
Part of the difficulty is Democrats find it harder to attract the votes of white men than vegan hot dog vendors have selling their meatless sticks at a Wyoming rodeo. Only 34 percent of Caucasian males voted for the democratic candidate in the last presidential election, which is approximately the same percentage that would vote for a yellow dog.
Another worry is that Democrats are not shy talking about wanting their next presidential candidate to be anything but another boring white man. Too bad Barack Obama can’t run again. With the amount of minorities and women he brought to the table, he didn’t need white men. Whereas Hillary Clinton actively avoided them, and yes, that includes Bill.
To complicate matters, the two folks leading the liberal polls right now are Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, who are not just white men, but extremely old white men. On Election Night 2020, Biden and Sanders will have trod this orb a cumulative 156 years. Which will come in handy in case history starts to repeat itself, because then either one could alert the rest of us.
Joe hasn’t officially entered the race yet and Bernie isn’t really a Democrat but the two control 53 percent of the latest Emerson poll. Throw in Pete Buttigieg and Beto O’Rourke and you got four white men hogging the top 70 percent of all likely voters.
Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana gets a White Man Pass because he’s gay and Beto is not just the hot new thing, he’s the hot new Texas thing. And the prospects of winning the Lone Star State has the party drooling like the aforementioned yellow dog on a summer day at high noon.
Nobody knows why women have yet to ignite the passion of their party. Maybe their sheer numbers cancel out what was previously a novelty. Or maybe since 44 of the 45 POTUSes so far have been white men, we are conditioned to think pale people with a y chromosome make the best president.
Although, you’ve got to admit, the current office holder is testing the limits of that presumption.
Will Durst is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed columnist, comic and former sod farmer in New Berlin, Wisconsin.