The Democratic Party loves to tout their diversity. They claim to be the champion of women, Hispanics, African Americans, the LGBTQ community, the youth and everyone in between. But the most ironic thing about the Democrats? The majority of those who are leading the pack for the party's nomination are old, white, rich men, which is antithetical to what they stand for.
Tuesday night's debate will feature billionaire Tom Steyer, former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
According to Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Tom Perez, voters are responsible for who lands on the stage. And it's voters' fault that the stage lacks any diversity.
"We’ve set forth a clear set of transparent, inclusive rules,” Perez said during an interview on MSNBC. "We set those rules out in advance. And it’s for the voters to decide.”
“If you want to make sure that a candidate of color makes the debate stage, when a pollster calls you, make sure you make that preference felt because that is how you move the polling needle and, again, the voters are the ones who are making these decisions," the DNC chair explained.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) dropped out last month after having issues with fundraising but Perez said she likely would have qualified for both the December and January debates. Former Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julian Castro ended his campaign earlier this month and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) dropped out Monday morning after polling revealed his campaign was flopping. The only minority left in the race is entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who failed to qualify for Tuesday's debate.
Back in December, Booker floated a letter to convince the DNC to change its debate stage requirements so it wasn't so stringent. In order to be on stage, each candidate had to have at least 200,000 unique donors and garner at least four-percent support in four qualifying polls or at least six-percent support in two approved early voting state polls in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada or South Carolina. Both Booker and Castro failed to meet those thresholds in December and failed to meet them again this month. Despite that, every single other candidate who is still in the race agreed that the requirements should be changed.
Despite that, the DNC defended their debate qualifications, saying they're extremely low."
“The DNC has led a fair and transparent process and even told campaigns almost a year ago that the qualification criteria would go up later in the year — not one campaign objected," DNC communications director Xochitl Hinojosa told BuzzFeed News at the time. "The DNC will not change the threshold for any one candidate and will not revert back to two consecutive nights with more than a dozen candidates.”
According to Hinojosa, once voters begin to turn out in February, “our criteria will reflect those contests, which is more than appropriate. We’re proud to have given candidates so many opportunities to get their message across, and will continue to have fair criteria that reflects each point in the race.”
It's honestly quite surprising that the Democrats aren't moving the goalposts so there's at least some kind of diversity on the stage. Considering the only person left out of the debate is now Yang, you'd think they'd extend an invitation to the Washington outsider. Maybe this is just their way of knocking out those who have little to no chance at obtaining the nomination.
At least if someone like Bernie or Biden wins the nomination, Democrats can't say Republicans are the party of old, rich, white men.