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Warren and Race

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The only way to explain the fact that in the most diverse primary in Democratic Party history, the top 4 candidates are all white men, including 2 who have done absolutely nothing of note, is misogyny and racism among Democratic voters. This may not be overt; but if “electability” means “white dude,” that is in fact internalized racism and misogyny. We will have to see how this moves going forward, but it’s very much worth nothing that there is no reasonable way to win the Democratic primary without winning black and Latino voters, if for no other reason than because after Iowa and New Hampshire, the next several major states are Nevada and South Carolina and then most of the South on Super Tuesday. If voters of color begin coalescing around a candidate, that person will have a major advantage. It could be Biden I suppose, but it’s pretty unlikely it is Bernie and it surely won’t be Beto or Mayor Pete. It could of course be Booker or Harris.

One person who understands this is, of course, Elizabeth Warren, who understands almost everything. And she is acting on it:

The plans are penetrating the community of black operatives and activists working to mobilize black voters in 2020. Her housing affordability proposal is hailed as one that would do the most to close the racial wealth gap. She was one of the first candidates to endorse a House bill establishing a commission to study reparations for the descendants of slaves. And when she held a climate change forum in Charleston recently four out of the six panelists were local African-American leaders.

“Based on the fact that we’ve got a self-proclaimed nationalist in the presidential office, it’s really important that we don’t run away from identity politics,” said LaTosha Brown, founder of Black Voters Matter. “Elizabeth is not.”

“She is not running away from this conversation about race and class and gender and the intersection of that,” Brown continued, “To me that distinguishes her.”

The competition for black voters is intense and growing, and Warren is up against two prominent African-American senators, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris — plus former Vice President Joe Biden, who has strong ties to the black community and a bond with former President Barack Obama.

But Warren’s three-state Southern tour in March through Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama didn’t go unnoticed. Adrianne Shropshire, executive director of the progressive BlackPAC, has seen a steady increase in the number of black influencers across social media “raising the flag,” asking why Warren and her policies centered on black communities aren’t getting more attention.

“No one,” Shropshire said, “is raising the flag around any of these other candidates in the same way.”

Warren’s affordable housing plan is co-sponsored by one of her presidential rivals and six members of the Congressional Black Caucus. And in South Carolina, Warren delivered the details herself: If elected president she’d propose building 3.2 million new housing units, and federal assistance will go to any person of color who lives or has lived in a redlined area, who is a first-time homebuyer or who lost a home.

Of course, her plans are going to be more well-developed than anyone else and she has no fear of articulating them anywhere. She’s playing a long game. Who knows if it pays off given the Democratic voters’ 2019-20 desire for a white daddy who will save them. But if she fails, it’s not for lack of trying, planning, and strategy.

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