Tuesday, December 17, 2019

‘Racism permeates everything’: Running as a black candidate after Obama

When Kamala Harris dropped out two weeks ago, it hit Cory Booker hard.
She may have been his rival in the race for the Democratic nomination, but her exit represented something bigger. If Harris — a friend of Booker’s and the only black woman in the race, who began her campaign with such promise — couldn’t make it to Iowa, what did it mean for him, a black man still in the fight but unable to qualify for the Democratic debate?
At the heart of Booker’s dilemma is a larger question about the Democratic Party and American politics: What if Barack Obama was not just the first, but the only person who is not a white man to occupy the White House for decades to come?

That’s a very real fear,” said Bakari Sellers, a prominent South Carolina Democrat who supported Harris’ bid. It feels like the country has taken a giant step backwards, he said. “It’s hard to answer the question of, how did you go from Barack Obama to Donald Trump?”

Harris’ downfall, Booker’s struggles and Julián Castro’s single-digit polling have caused Democrats across the party, and especially people of color, to ask what’s led the party to this juncture, where all the frontrunners are white, and most of them are male and in their 70s. In July, Democrats had the most diverse debate stage in history. Five months later, all the participants are white except for Andrew Yang, who cleared the bar by a single percentage point in one poll on the final day to qualify.

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