With left-wing activists and primary voters convinced that President Donald Trump is a “racist” and a “bigot,” Democrats vying for their party’s 2020 presidential nomination may have no choice but to go all-in on racial and identity politics.
Al Sharpton told Politico this week that 2020 contenders have to “stand up and go after people of color’s vote unapologetically,” adding that he believes Democrats “only can fight” Trump “with a street fight, and anybody who does not want to deal with the race part of that street fight should stay out of this fight.”
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), for instance, recently said at the Netroots conference that when it comes to identity politics, she will not “shut up” or be “silenced.”
“We shouldn’t just be thanking women of color for electing progressive leaders, in 2018 we should be electing women of color as those leaders,” Harris added at Netroots. “Now, I’m aware that some people will say that what I just said is playing ‘identity politics.’ I have a problem with that phrase, ‘identity politics.’ When people say that, it’s a pejorative. That phrase is used to divide and used to distract.”
Politico also noted that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has referred to the criminal justice system as “racist… front to back” while Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) has said it is “the biggest cancer on the soul of this country.”
Warren and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) have also called for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to be abolished.
David Axelrod, former President Barack Obama’s chief strategist, said Trump is “provoking a response” on race and even moderate blue-collar Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) told the outlet that Democrats “have to” talk about race because “Trump has been race-baiting for the last 18 months.”
But former Bill Clinton strategist James Carville told Politico that such a strategy could backfire.
“The best available political science says white identity was a bigger motivator in voting for Trump than nonwhite identity was for voting for a Democrat,” Carville reportedly said.
Steve Bannon, the former chief strategist in President Donald Trump’s White House, predicted last year that Democrats would move even further to the left on race and identity politics. Bannon essentially told Democrats to “bring it on.”
“The Democrats,” Bannon told the American Prospect’s Robert Kuttner last year, “the longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.”