I’ve been saying for a long time that the Democrats’ have a promising grand strategy: assemble a Coalition of the Fringes of American life: black welfare mothers, tech billionaires, gays, Muslims, transgenders, lesbians, Jews, felons, etc. Demographic trends are on their side.
The obvious problem is that their various Fringes are constantly turning on each other in struggles for jobs, money, and influence. To keep their Coalition at least nominally united, the Democrats therefore love to focus hatred on Core Americans, such as straight white males. Hating SWMs is the KKKrazy Glue of the Democratic Party.
From the New York Times news section, a graphic description of the centrifugal forces within the Coalition of the Margins:
By Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Aug. 2, 2019
WASHINGTON — … House Democrats are reckoning with the same identity politics and hunger for diversity that helped deliver them control of the chamber in November. Concerns about a lack of people of color in critical roles at the campaign arm, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, prompted a huge shake-up this week and an intense scramble to include more minority staff members at the top echelons of the organization.
But that shake-up comes at a cost: The first casualty of the committee’s purge was its executive director, Allison Jaslow, a gay white woman and Iraq war veteran who was a compelling face for swing-district Democrats just starting their first re-election campaigns. The longer-term fallout may be for Representative Cheri Bustos of Illinois, the campaign committee’s chairwoman from Trump country, viewed as a rising Democratic star who had cracked the code on appealing to white working-class voters.
Bustos has a Celtic maiden name and is from East Moline on the Mississippi River. She won easily in 2018 in a Congressional district that voted for Trump in 2016. She is married (to a man!) who was in law enforcement, and she took her husband’s Mexican surname. They have three sons.
The Democratic Party sees her as a Normal-American who can communicate to other Normal-Americans (especially voters who went for Obama in 2012 and Trump in 2016): “Hey, despite what it may seem, the Democratic Party doesn’t hate Normal-Americans like you or me.”
But … it turns out that ascendant elements within the Coalition of the Fringes really do hate Normal-Americans like Bustos, seeing them as standing between them and that sweet, sweet money.
The turmoil reflects an incongruous reality for a party whose backbone of support comes from minority voters in solidly Democratic areas all over the country, but whose House majority rests on a few dozen largely white districts that voted for President Trump in 2016. Even as the Democratic caucus’s liberal brand has been defined by progressive young stars representing diverse constituencies, its path to a lasting majority relies on the success of a new crop of moderates.
But for much of the caucus, the imperative is diversity. The top ranks of the party’s infrastructure, including senior campaign officials and the consultants and strategists who work with them, remain overwhelmingly white.
The unofficial motto of Democratic political machines has long been “Jobs for the boys!” Now, it’s: “Jobs for the non-boys and non-Beckys!”
And as the president eagerly stokes racial animus for political advantage, many Democrats believe it is past time to confront their own party’s issues with race.
“At the end of the day, we know how Democrats took back the House, and it was because of black and brown voters throughout the country and female voters,” said Bakari Sellers, a Democratic political strategist. “And there is a very real concern that our recruiting and leadership and all of those things have to be equally as diverse.”
Ergo, give Bakari Sellers a job!
“For the Democratic Party to lack diversity in any way in the year 2019 is unacceptable,” he added, “and I’d rather fix it now than have to deal with it later.”
That “fix it now” imperative rocked the House Democratic campaign arm this week after complaints from black and Hispanic lawmakers led to a wholesale purge of its leadership. Politico ran a series of articles detailing the infighting, and Ms. Bustos rushed back to Washington from her Springfield, Ill., district to contain the fallout. Within 24 hours of Ms. Jaslow’s resignation, another five senior officials were gone. …
Mr. Trump’s overt stoking of racial prejudice has only heightened the sensitivities and sense of grievance among some lawmakers and aides of color, intensifying their concern that their party is not doing enough to call out racism in its own institutions.
Of course, until Trump came along, these Intersectional Democratic strategists never ever thought about using identity politics grievances to boost their own careers.
“The challenge is intensified by the race-baiting strategies of Donald Trump, which has created a much more polarized environment and an understandable sense by many members that diversity has to be accentuated,” said Steve Israel, a former representative of New York, who led the campaign committee from 2011 to 2015 and was criticized by some black lawmakers who said he did not value them or foster a diverse enough operation.
Tensions between chiefs of the campaign arm and lawmakers of color are longstanding and somewhat inevitable, given that the committee is devoted to defending competitive districts, and most dues-paying black and Hispanic members of Congress represent safe Democratic areas. But this year’s episode has pointed up a broader generational and cultural challenge.
“Democrats feel particularly sensitive around issues of racism and diversity because Trump is president, and you have an old guard of people in power in the party who don’t fully recognize or get it,” said Waleed Shahid, a spokesman for the insurgent liberal group Justice Democrats, which is backing primary challenges to entrenched Democrats.
The dysfunction comes at an otherwise heady time for the campaign committee, with its most vulnerable incumbents flush with cash to wage their re-election races. Under Ms. Bustos’s leadership, the organization is shattering fund-raising records.
So, the obvious response is to fire her white staffers who are going gang-busters and replace them with less competent PoCs who want to dip their beaks in that stream of cash.
Last month, it raised more than it ever has in July of a nonelection year, breaking its 2017 record of $6.2 million; reached more than $19.7 million in online donations — more than its digital haul in all of 2015; and reported its best-ever second-quarter fund-raising for an off year, $29.2 million.
So they got fired.
… Several high-ranking aides of color who had been brought to the committee by Representative Ben Ray Lujàn, Democrat of New Mexico, who led it during the last Congress, saw their roles diminished as Ms. Bustos added staff of her own.
… Jalisa Washington-Price, who had been in charge of diversity initiatives, quit. She was the highest-ranking African-American in the building. …
Ms. Bustos seemed to fuel the resentment by repeatedly mentioning to other lawmakers that her husband is Mexican and that one of her sons is engaged to a black woman, a comment some interpreted as an attempt to deflect any potential questions about her commitment to issues of race. She came under intense criticism last month for promoting an African-American aide, Tayhlor Coleman, who had sent offensive tweets when she was in college a decade ago appearing to disparage gay people, and one saying she was “concerned about safety” if she used a vending machine selling only Mexican snacks.
Mexican-Only Vending Machines sounds like An Issue from the Future. I don’t know exactly what it means yet, but I can imagine we’ll all be lectured on it soon.