The New Face of the Political Elite

Although I generally agree with the theory that “demography is destiny” in this primary election, I think we’ve all had difficulty parsing out the meaning behind group preferences for particular candidates.  Narratives include: the struggle between Baby Boomers and Generation Me for political, social and cultural prominence in the 21st century; those by NYC Weboy or Anglachel that reveal the class divides exposed in the Democratic match-up; Paul Lukasiak’s well- documented gender gap in primary voting; and endless analyses of race and racism.  Yet, all obscure the more nuanced diversity underpinning voter preferences and campaign competition.  We’re focusing myopically on the voting patterns of African-American and whites – and white ethnics, in particular – when our nation’s diversity has moved for beyond these traditional categories.  Almost 20% of this country identifies as neither white nor black, and Hispanics have the “freedom” to choose from a range of race options – including multiracial. Since the 1960s, immigration from Asia, Latin America, and Africa has grown dramatically.  We struggle not only with four centuries old black-white cleavages, but also with competition, conflict and collaboration among native vs. foreign-born populations, among and within communities of color, across geographic and occupational class divides that differently constrain these groups, and within the gendered inequality that imprisons us all.

Unsurprisingly, our political, economic and cultural elite do not reflect proportionally our nation’s racial/ethnic and class diversity.  We are subjected to the endless, cloistered conversations and decisions of mostly white, wealthy men and their families, and a few privileged white women and men and women of color who have gained tenuous access to this inner sanctum.  While the political blogosphere is more diverse than our political system or the MSM, we more or less follow the same hierarchies and categorizations, with mostly white men held up as the serious politicos, and any prominent non-white-men typified as outsiders – whether they are feminists, activists, or some other classified contrarian.

One case to be made for a Hillary Clinton Administration is the diversity she promises to bring to the White House.  Among the major Dem and GOP candidates, Clinton is the only one with a majority of women in her staff; she also has the lowest percentage of white staff members.  Other than Maggie Williams, her African-American campaign manager who replaced her Latina manager, Patti Solis Doyle, the major names associated with the Clinton campaign are of white men (Garin, Wolfson, Penn).  Yet, her staff is less than 40% white, and around 20% Asian and Black (and just under 20% Latino).  Obama’s campaign, in contrast, is 20% female, and almost 60% white, with no AAPI representation at all.

Originally posted at NYC Weboy


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