Overly opinionated business owner turned 2020 Democrat presidential candidate, Andrew Yang, distanced himself from other Democrats as he criticized the party for their all too evident focus on identity politics leading into the next election. “I understand the impulse, but identity politics are a great way to lose elections,” Yang said. “We need to bring people together.”
Democrats have been especially vocal of their condemnation of President Trump’s policies and their ‘impacts’ on minorities and women although minorities have thrived under Trump, reaching record lows in unemployment and women have more opportunity than ever. Former Vice President has looked to fuel the identity politics war as he recently issued a statement saying that he could no longer support the Hyde Amendment of 1976, which is responsible for capping the amount of federal funding allotted for most abortions. The majority of Democrats clawing their way towards a potential race against Trump in 2020 have attempted to ride the wave, having also come out against the amendment.
Similarly, many Democrats including 2020 candidate Beto O’Rourke have put an emphasis on “privilege” apparently enjoyed by straight, white men throughout the population. O’Rourke himself, who grew up in a wealthy household never having to worry about money, regretted his appearance on the cover of Vanity Fair which he felt broadcasted his “white privilege”. Additionally, he released an educational plan which was specifically geared towards catering to “black and brown” students, implying that they require additional assistance.
O’Rourke and Senator Kamala Harris both felt that voter suppression was linked to race and argued that this was the reason that Democrat Stacey Abrams was defeated in the gubernatorial race for Georgia in 2018. In accordance with this theory, Abrams defended identity politics against the idea that it harmed the party’s chances in 2020. “I would argue that identity politics is exactly who we are, and it’s exactly how we won,” she said. She added that the notion of identity politics was a “dog whistle” and that voters didn’t trust politicians as much without it. “The notion of identity politics has been peddled for the last 10 years, and it’s been used as a dog whistle to say that we shouldn’t pay too much attention to the new voices coming into progress,” she told an audience in Washington, D.C.
Harris also was quick to defend identity politics at the end of 2018. She argued that people used the term as a “pejorative” to “divide” and “distract.” She added that she wouldn’t “shut up” about issues associated with identity politics. Perhaps the reason for this is that she has an empty agenda and needs to keep voters fired up and divided if she is to retain her seat.
However, Yang was far from alone in this intense inter-party feud. Fellow Democrat, Matt Flynn, a Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate called out the party, stating that it was “pickled in identity politics and victimology…When I was at the convention recently, in Oshkosh, there were multiple caucuses of, there were all these subgroups, and there is no assimilation of the party anymore.”
The party has also faced backlash for their exploitation of identity politics while having two rich white males – Bernie sanders and Joe Biden – as their frontrunners heading into 2020. According to RealClearPolitics’ polling average, both Sanders and Biden held significant margins over the rest of the field. Yang took only about 0.8 percent of support.