Is the Democratic Party ready to nominate a white male presidential candidate?
Members of a panel on CNN this morning said they were not so sure, referring to the announcement that former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke will be running for president next year.
CNN’s Nia-Malika Henderson expressed grave concerns she has about O’Rourke, who has been at or near the top of polls of favored Democratic presidential candidates.
Henderson said O’Rourke would have to “grapple” with the way white privilege has paved the way for his White House bid.
While discussing O’Rourke’s newly announced presidential campaign, Henderson referred to an earlier essay she wrote where she analyzed the many ways that O’Rourke “benefited from white privilege.”
She wrote that she couldn’t imagine a woman or a minority candidate undertaking on a soul-searching odyssey the way that O’Rourke did after he lost his Senate bid last fall, and still be considered a serious presidential candidate.
“He only felt emboldened and free enough to do that is because he was white and because he was male and because his wife could, in fact, stay at home and look after the kids,” Henderson said. “There couldn’t be a female candidate or an African-American candidate who could do that kind of exercise and get so much praise for it.”
Henderson went on to say that O’Rourke really needs to answer why voters should pick him as their president, other than the fact that he’s an inspiring and charismatic speaker.
“How is it that someone who did raise $80 million but then lost against Ted Cruz, how is it that, all of a sudden, he thinks he’s qualified?” she asked.
When he announced he was running yesterday, O’Rourke said:
“I’m really proud of what El Paso did and what El Paso represents. It’s a big part of why I’m running. This city is the best example of this country at its best.”
O’Rourke followed his announcement with a trip to Iowa, the state that will hold the first Democratic nominating contest in February 2020.
Republicans have made clear that they are scared of O’Rourke by running ads against him in Iowa before he had even declared that he was a candidate.
Many observers believe that the charismatic, young Texan would be the strongest Democratic candidate in a contest against President Donald Trump, if he runs for reelection. When Trump held a rally in El Paso in February at the Mexican border, the El Paso fire department said that twice as many people attended O’Rourke’s competing rally than attended Trump’s.
During his rally, O’Rourke contrasted himself with Trump, saying that walls make the country less safe and he would support tearing down the fence that was built in El Paso in 2008.
With his presidential effort, O’Rourke is hoping to leverage the fame he gained with his Texas Senate race last year. He was a heavy underdog when he challenged incumbent Ted Cruz, but he showed an ability to draw capacity crowds and raise massive amounts of money from voters throughout the entire country.
It would be too bad if Democrats attack strong candidates because they are white and/or male. Never before has it been so important that Democrats unify in their efforts to elect a president, and make sure that Donald Trump is denied a second term.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.