No, DNC needs to prioritize winning against Trump


Graphic by Sabrina Mei

Andrew Yang was the only candidate of color to qualify for the December Democratic presidential debate.

Rohan Dewan, Senior Opinions Writer

Nov. 4, 2008: America embraced diversity with open arms, swearing in our first black president and a new progressive era. But just eight years later, the United States made one of its biggest transformations yet, swinging from a period of acceptance and liberalism to one where hate carves deep chasms between red and blue America.

As the 2020 presidential election looms around the corner, the Democrats are determined to bring back the days of humane leadership. However, many take issue with the current field of candidates, composed of nine white and three minority candidates. Citing an apparent “lack of diversity,” those critics claim the Democratic party should attempt to offer more minority contenders. However, as the candidate pool dwindles to a mostly white makeup, a surge of diversity is the last thing we need.

Any candidate, irrespective of race or gender, must earn the support of voters through their charisma and capability, something our 44th president did extremely well. Think back to Obama’s 2004 Democratic National Committee (DNC) speech. A relatively unknown politician at the time, he used eloquence and intelligence to inspire the nation and propel his future candidacy.

When choosing the next president, a candidate must not be judged by their race, but by their capability to lead the world’s sole superpower. In an interview with CBS News, former presidential candidate Cory Booker said, “The Democrats are spiraling towards a debate stage with no diversity.” Contrary to what Booker claims, the Democrats have not been spiraling, rather aptly narrowing the field based on merit to include only candidates who exhibit potential to defeat Trump.

Just because white candidates are more popular than their minority counterparts does not mean the party has a problem with diversity. In fact, the last two Democratic nominees have either been African-American or female. But if the party pushed forward a candidate of color unable to rally voters, the upcoming election will provide a similar outcome to 2016.

Despite the great disdain towards Hillary Clinton, the DNC skewed support for her campaign due to gender and experience. While the latter may affirm voters’ faith in a candidate’s competency, contenders must exude a sense of vitality as well. Both Obama, and President Trump to a greater extent, lacked experience. However, their ability to energize the public carried them into office. 

This gusto and image, which Clinton lacked, is the key ingredient to winning presidential elections. Americans who had previously voted for Obama shifted their allegiance to Trump in 2016 because of Clinton’s negative image, illustrated by her questionable behavior as Secretary of State.

Unlike Obama, who championed “Hope and Change,” candidates like Booker give performances that are lackluster and laughable in comparison. It has been clear that the minority candidates of 2020 have not been able to resonate with the Democratic public. Although contenders like Andrew Yang and Booker have support for their ambitious policies, they hardly emanate a command presence, impelling voters to turn to more mainstream candidates like Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

Not only are these three frontrunners extremely electable, but they can connect with large groups of voters and garner support from across the electorate. Government teacher William Vicari said, “I think that electability is always a factor in elections, but this time around it may be weighed a higher level since voters feel we have to beat Trump.”

Even if a minority candidate was able to generate the same momentum in society that Obama had, it would be extremely challenging to overcome Trump in the general election. “Many people might have loved Kamala Harris and what she stood for. And they may have really wanted to vote for her but couldn’t see her beating Trump, so they decided to place their support among someone more electable,” Vicari said.

While the nation voted in its first non-white president just over a decade ago, the America of today is a far cry from her former self. Over the last few years, Republicans living in the breadbasket of the U.S. have been losing their jobs and facing financial ruin.

Under the Obama administration, they felt alienated and left behind. But when Donald Trump entered politics in 2015, he promised to restore industrial economies in America and provided an outlet for their pain via hate against minorities. 

Though that mindset is problematic, those Trump voters would be more likely to vote for a white candidate, like Joe Biden,  who can help fix their racist perspectives over time.

The 2020 general election will allow America to rectify Trump’s wrongdoing. The only way Democrats can win is if they allow the people to choose the strongest candidate, and this time that person will probably be white. The highest priority is beating Trump—diversity is going to have to wait.