Democrats need an antiracist nominee against a racist like Donald Trump. The third debate confirmed that the former vice president isn’t up to the task.
Rahm Emanuel helped Chicago police cover up Laquan McDonald’s murder for more than a year, but ABC viewers Thursday night had to listen to him say he thought Julián Castro had been too unkind to Joe Biden. Since it requires the least analysis and garners the most eyeballs, the punditry after presidential debates tends to be focused primarily upon the most tense moments, not the substantive ones. Castro, an underdog candidate who once served as President Obama’s HUD secretary, gave pundits like the disgraced former mayor considerable grist when he rather bluntly questioned the septuagenarian former vice president’s memory during a discussion about health care.
I don’t know whether people like Emanuel have forgotten whom these Democrats are preparing to run against. If Castro’s point was correct, which it seems he wasn’t, how is it disqualifying if it’s only perceived as rude? Will they spend all of the general election scolding Donald Trump for being too cruel and obnoxious to their nominee?
Perhaps they will, if it is Biden, a person whom party centrists like Emanuel are already prone to coddling. Treating the 76-year-old front-runner so delicately is arguably more insulting than questioning his mental fitness, especially considering the incumbent whom he is preparing to run against.
Donald Trump is not merely a bully, but a racist one. Bigotry has been the marrow of his presidency, so whoever hopes to face him next year will need to at least be fluent in the language of antiracism, if not be practicing it. It is not enough, as author Ibram X. Kendi writes in his new book How to Be an Antiracist, to simply claim that you “not a racist.” Democrats, particularly white liberals, have skated on that for generations. There is too much institutional cruelty for the next president to undo should a Democrat defeat Trump next fall.