You don't always look for wisdom-- not even political wisdom-- by turning to members of Congress... except in a few cases. The other day I had a long chat about the bane of identity politics with one of those few cases. He told me about a former colleague, someone we both know, who was up for a job in the Biden administration. The guy-- let's call him Congressman X, since he's no longer in Congress-- was certainly qualified for the job, being one of the smartest and most ethical-- and well-liked-- members of Congress when he served.
The current member told me that our friend had been recommended by several people close to Biden and that he received "an email from the transition with a form to complete. Almost the entire form was about demographics, and he's a straight, cisgender, white, over-40, non-Hispanic male without any disabling condition, and he's not the first in his family to attend college, although neither of his parents could afford to complete college. So he looked to the Biden people just like Tony Blinken, only Blinken’s father founded a private equity firm and has five Rothkos in his living room overlooking the East River and [Congressman X's] father worked for the post office and died when he was 12. Anyway, he never heard back from them."
If you read much DWT, you probably know that there are some folks on the left-- even besides me-- who are critical of the diversity claims as misdirection. They don’t see Kamala Harris or Pete Buttigieg as progressive leaders because of their demographics but as empty careerists. If you've watched Briahana Joy Gray’s podcast you may have concluded that she’s pretty critical as well.
Yesterday, Lee Fang sent this out:
Val Demings (FL) and Cheri Beasley (NC), two not at all progressive African-American women, are running for the Senate this cycle and both-- though neither is a very good candidate-- are getting tremendous support from the Democratic establishment-- just the way Sinema did. Schumer hand-picked Sinema and Demings and seamlessly embraced Beasley when EMILY's List recruited her. Demings may be a status quo hack who will continue doing whatever the establishment tells her to do but it's Beasley could actually be the next Kyrsten Sinema. She's certainly the most conservative of any of the Democratic candidates running for Senate in the country. She praised the filibuster, saying it "benefited" North Carolina. She has no policy page on her campaign website after 8 months. She broke her no corporate PAC money pledge. Her first policy position was opposition to Medicare-for-All, with members of her campaign saying she won't support it because she knows it doesn't "benefit her."
Her opponents are another conservative status quo type-- Jeff Jackson, not as bad as her, but not good at all-- and... a fantastic progressive former state senator and-- by the way, also a Black woman-- Erica Smith, who gets no support from the establishment whatsoever. Quite the opposite in fact; Slanders against her are easily traced back to Schumer and his allies.
Meanwhile, Beasley has skipped something like 90% of the candidate forums and is hardly campaigning at all. (At least Jackson shows up, even if it's Erica Smith who dominates all the forums.) Beasley has completely embraced the DSCC playbook of running away from a platform and refusing to interact with any voters. She was the only statewide Democratic incumbent who lost re-election in 2020 and that was despite having the support of the entire Democratic establishment. If she's the nominee, she'll almost certainly lose, and even if she were to somehow win, with her support of the filibuster and conservative positions, it'd hardly make a difference... like Sinema, other than on the level of identity politics, in this case a Black woman in the Senate. What a shame Chuck-- Kyrsten's daddy-- Schumer refuses to allow the other Black woman a fair shot since she is eminently qualified for the job, has an independent mind and, unlike Kyrsten Sinema, would be a powerful member of Congress for working families rather than for special interests.