The Reality Of Old White Men
March 20th, 2020
(published in The Daily Memphian)
On Super Tuesday, a number of old white men gathered around a table to consider the import of the day and its implications. There were, of course, lawyers – including a federal judge. Wall Street and the EPA had representatives. An architect and a writer were also present, and the floor was open for discussion.
Among the discussions, was the enormous impact of Congressman Clyburn’s endorsement of Joe Biden in South Carolina a few days before, and whether or not Mike Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren would survive the day. Electability, socialism, ageism, diversity, misogyny, competence, economics, climate change, pending pandemics, and crisis management all had their moments.
Being old white men, that may sound like a cabinet meeting in Washington or a Senate vote, but it was just another Tuesday and the regular meeting of my “and I’ll tell you another damn thing” lunch group.
This particular Tuesday, we were convened at Caritas Village, and the merits of the cheeseburger, the soup of the day, and the vegetable pie were debated along with all of the above, and much more satisfying. And, as usual, the session began with an organ recital – a summary of all the various things wrong with us individually and collectively.
But the consensus reached would be the same as the voters reached when all the polls closed that day: Joe Biden would win the day and assume the role of the presumptive Democratic nominee for President.
Despite the most diverse group of candidates ever, the Democratic Party is going to nominate an old white man. Despite the original ideas, new faces, intelligent approaches, and world-class management credentials spread across the possible choices, the Democratic Party is going to nominate an old white man.
Now get over it and move on.
As painful as that reality may be, the old white man that’s emerged, reborn in South Carolina, is the Democrats’ best bet in November.
We know as a nation – well, at least 60 to 70 percent of us do – that the soul of this nation will be on that ballot.
And if we’re honest, we know this:
Joe Biden is electable. Bernie Sanders is not.
Whatever people may call Biden, Sanders calls himself a socialist. He modifies that as democratic socialist, but he still doesn’t seem to understand that any description that has socialist in it cannot win a national election in the United States.
Whatever attraction Sanders holds for young people – the desire for meaningful and dramatic change, the adoption of progressive principles and programs – they now have to realize that the most meaningful and dramatic change is to send Trump back up the escalator in Trump Tower.
I get it. I worked on the McGovern campaign in 1972 right out of college with passion. And I watched him get beat like a rented mule by Nixon. He won one state. And it wasn’t his.
Sanders simply can’t beat Trump. He’s too far left to bring out the moderate middle, and suburban women, and crossover Republicans who desperately want someone they can vote for this time. And Biden has paid dues in the African American community.
And there’s this.
Biden knows that he will only be as good as the people he puts around him, and only as effective as the laws he can get passed, and his five elected decades of inside lessons learned and contacts made around the world will inform that process. Trump’s ego, insecurity and incompetence have turned the entire Executive Branch into a late-night comedy monologue. The threat to all of us is no laughing matter.
That’s why a bunch of old white men around a table in Memphis are feeling a little better. Contrary to popular belief, we still have ideals and principles and passion. We just mix them with some hard-earned pragmatism.
After that Tuesday, we see a path.
Since then, Covid-19 has changed the world. The lunch group and all of us are reassessing how we live day-to-day, but that Tuesday and a couple of primary Tuesdays since have made something clear:
Democratic voters think Joe can give us our country back all the way down ticket, all the way to a lunch table in Memphis.
I’m a Memphian, and that Tuesday was pretty Super.
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