The lone Black Democrat running for president had some time Tuesday morning.
Hours ahead of the first Democratic debate of the year, Deval Patrick blasted the process that has left the Party’s field of presidential candidates on the verge of having no racial diversity at all. It was something Patrick said was not a proper reflection of who the country is in 2020. BuzzFeed News reporter Darren Sands tweeted a thread of Patrick’s statements on the topic of race that he released Tuesday morning.
Among them was Patrick telling us all how he really feels about Democrats’ efforts at diversity and inclusion within the Party.
“Instead of helping Democrats to choose our most compelling nominee from a range of diverse talent, the debates have become an end in themselves, an episode of reality TV with candidates paying more attention to polling numbers and donations than issues and people,” Patrick said.
Patrick went on to lament that “no one on that stage knows what it’s like to fear for their safety when pulled over for a routine traffic stop.”
Patrick’s remarks came one day after Cory Booker dropped out of the race, leaving the former governor of Massachusetts as the only Black person running for president.
He was a late entrant when he announced his campaign in November, more than nine months after Booker and Kamala Harris — the other Black candidates — launched their respective efforts. That truth has left Patrick “struggling to gain voter support” — as the Boston Globe recently put it — and mounting what CNN described as “a longshot presidential campaign.”
But what he lacked in polling and donations was more than made up for in political capital when he addressed the elephant in the room that will not be on the debate stage Tuesday night.
With the absence of Julián Castro, the former presidential candidate who has consistently defended Black lives, along with Booker, Harris and Patrick made it unclear which remaining Democrat would be able to adequately address the concerns of Black people, the powerful voting bloc coveted by all the White House hopefuls.
Patrick cited the “privilege” of the all-white field of candidates when he implored them all to carry the mantle of championing racial causes when they talk about the issues during Tuesday night’s debtate.
“The remaining candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for president, and in particular, those who have the privilege of being on the debate stage tonight must keep the issues facing people of color in the forefront as we address the future of our country,” Patrick said.
More importantly, Patrick said while referring to what he called “the unfinished business of race,” that Democrats will not be able to beat Trump “without voters of color, nor should we.”
In a campaign season that has seen a number of gaffes and missteps on race from Democrats, only time will tell if they can heed Patrick’s calling.