Michael Arceneaux, The Independent
Late Monday morning, Senator Cory Booker announced that he would be suspending his presidential campaign.
“It was a difficult decision to make, but I got in this race to win, and I’ve always said I wouldn’t continue if there was no longer a path to victory,” Booker wrote in an email to supporters. “Our campaign has reached the point where we need more money to scale up and continue building a campaign that can win — money we don’t have, and money that is harder to raise because I won’t be on the next debate stage and because the urgent business of impeachment will rightly be keeping me in Washington.”
The ever-increasing whitening of the Democratic presidential primary has largely been attributed to money. For months now, we have seen nonwhite candidates such as Kamala Harris, Julián Castro, and now Cory Booker collectively cite their respective campaign’s financial woes as the basis for them exiting the still-too-crowded field.
This has all taken place in the midst of billionaires like Mike Bloomberg and Tom Steyer managing to rise in recent polling for no other reason than their infinite resources affording them the luxury of blanketing the airwaves with their respective ads, boosting name recognition. Even so, while I agree that the campaigns of Bloomberg and Steyer offer yet another grim look into an inconvenient truth about American democracy — it mirrors an oligarchy far more than most who help shape the political narrative are willing to admit — I am not convinced money alone doomed the Booker campaign.
After all, it’s not as if Booker didn’t used to get criticism over the kind of money he raised — notably corporate interests (as some have already made note). Booker knows how to raise money, but the political climate has changed, and with it, many folks’ political calculations. As a result, Cory Booker could have been provided the code to Scrooge McDuck’s vault of gold and likely still would have failed.
What really sank him, and flatly, what also sank the bids of Kamala Harris and Julián Castro is the unspoken preference the Democratic electorate by and large has for a white candidate — especially if he is male.
It’s been evident for sentient beings for quite some time, but in the case of Booker, it has been particularly frustrating to watch white people in the media marvel at how “smart” Pete Buttigieg for possessing the moderate political views he developed only about two weeks ago. As The Huffington Post’s Amanda Terkel pointed out, news outlets cited Buttigieg’s Rhodes scholarship 596 times in 2019, while Booker’s had just 79 mentions.
Senator Amy Klobuchar was correct in her assertion that if she had the experience of Pete Buttigieg, her candidacy would not have been taken as seriously. “Could we be running with less experience than we had? I don’t think so,” Klobuchar told the New York Times last November. “I don’t think people would take us seriously.”
Yet, the reason why she remains in the race and Kamala Harris doesn’t is the same reason Pete Buttigieg is considered a rising political star in the way Booker and Castro aren’t: it’s good to be white.
Put simply, white people — even those who claim not to share any of Donald Trump’s prejudices — are still so terrified by the prospect of four more years of his monstrosities that they are willing to place the Obama legacy in the hands of Joe Biden, the man who was selected as vice president at the time mainly to help settle the fears of older white voters. Every other group, sensing this, is also voting accordingly.
Money can do many things, but it can’t pay that sort of prejudice away.
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