At some point during Donald Trump‘s miserable presidency, I remember joking that the next white male presidential candidate to come after him won’t have a chance because Trump had set a bad example for his whole demographic—because that’s still the way that works, right?
Because during Barack Obama‘s presidency, especially during his first term, this sentiment was echoed constantly by white conservatives who had it in their heads that the two-term president was doing a horrible job.
“Good luck ever electing another Black president after this disaster.”
For nearly eight years, I saw variations of this comment.
Unfortunately but not surprisingly, a white person doesn’t need to be a Republican conservative to fall into the same racist way of thinking.
According to the Washington Post, a top Maryland Democratic Party official resigned Monday after an email to party members was leaked that showed her questioning if a Black man could win a gubernatorial race in the state after three other Black candidates had lost in the past.
Before we even get into all of that, just imagine all the elections for Governor Maryland has had over the years, decades, and even centuries. Obviously, we can lead with the assumption that the vast majority of them have been white men, so imagine how many white men have been able to lose without shouldering the burden of being an example of the electability of their entire race.
White people: Tell me more about how white privilege doesn’t exist.
Anyway, an email to party members by now-former Democratic party deputy treasurer Barbara Goldberg Goldman (I can’t be the only one who wants her to change her first name to “Goldie”) was obtained by Axios.
“So, my thinking beyond here is the age-old question: Which candidate(s) have a better chance in the General election of beating an attractive female Hogan team member for whom both Dems and Repubs have expressed genuine likability?” Goldman wrote. “Consider this: Three African-American males have run statewide for Governor and have lost. Maryland is not a Blue state. It’s a purple one. This is a fact we must not ignore. In the last 20 years, only eight have been with a Democratic Governor. We need a winning team. IMHO.”
Here’s a little tidbit on how voter demographics break down in Maryland, according to the Baltimore Sun:
“Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1 in Maryland. Maryland’s Black population is 29%, the highest percentage outside the Deep South. Maryland’s past two Democratic nominees for governor have been Black.”
And yet the state can’t seem to elect a Black governor and because the last three Black candidates lost, it’s automatically assumed that their Blackness had something to do with it. Goldman may have been the one who said it, but anyone would be naive to think she was the only one thinking it or that this conversation hasn’t happened countless times in discussions on political strategy in other states. Imagine how many times this same discussion was brought up in consideration of Obama’s presidential candidacy.
“There were these conversations about whether or not the president would be able to win over some working-class White voters rather than to relate to them,” said Kevin Harris, who was a top aid to Black gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous and an organizer during Obama’s first bid for the presidency. “Time and time again, we’ve sort of broken through these myths, but then you get comments like this and you are reminded that it’s just never enough.”
As for Jealous himself, he had words for the Democratic party and its betrayal of Black supporters.
“White men lose races all the time, but no one ever ascribes that loss to their DNA,” he said. “Black women and Black men are entreated to support the Democrats every single cycle. We are told that the Democrats are the party that stands for us. And then when we stand up to lead, we’re told that our race is an obstacle to us winning.”
“This kind of backwards thinking has no place in the future of the Democratic Party in Maryland, nor is it acceptable coming from a party official,” John B. King Jr., a former U.S. education secretary, said in a statement calling for Goldman’s resignation. “As someone whose family went from being enslaved in a cabin in Gaithersburg to serving in the cabinet of the first Black president in just three generations, my family’s story is a testimony to the progress that Black Americans can achieve. Deputy Treasurer Goldman must resign from her position with the state party.”
Goldman, of course, offered a standard lackluster “apology” following her resignation.
“I am well aware that words matter despite how they might be interpreted, and I sincerely apologize,” Goldman told the Post Monday. “I would never want to distract from the hard work and mission of my colleagues and friends fighting for the principles upon which the Democratic Party and I stand.”
So she didn’t even apologize to the present and future Black candidates she dismissed, or to Black people in general—she apologized for being a distraction to politics as usual.
What’s that they say about “the more things change?”