Monday, 07 January 2019

Warren Preaches Identity Politics to Iowa on First Campaign Tour

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It’s been a tumultuous first week of 2019 for Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). After announcing on New Year’s Eve that she was forming an exploratory committee for a possible run for the presidency of the United States, she traveled to Iowa to speak with prospective supporters in the crucial early caucus state. 

In between those two events, she had time to squeeze in perhaps the most cringeworthy Instagram video of all time, in which she pretends to have a sudden hankering for a malted beverage while getting set to field questions from on-line admirers. 

In Sioux City, Iowa, on Saturday, Warren was forced to address the issue all of America has been wondering about since her October release of DNA results, proving that the senator may have Native-American ancestry — just not very much. Why did she do it? 

In a question and answer session, one Iowan asked the obvious question in a way which sounds as if it were written by the Warren campaign: “Why did you undergo the DNA testing and give Donald Trump more fodder to be a bully?”

“I’m glad you asked that question,” she replied. “I genuinely am and I’m glad for us to have a chance to talk about it. I am not a person of color. I am not a citizen of a tribe. Tribal citizenship is very different from ancestry.”

No kidding. But shouldn’t someone have asked her why she claimed Native American heritage in the first place?

The DNA test showed that Warren likely had a Native-American ancestor somewhere in the distant past (six to 10 generations ago). President Trump has famously attacked Warren for using her claims of Native-American ancestry to gain favor for career-boosting jobs, such as her Harvard professorship. Trump has repeatedly referred to Warren as “Pocahontas.”

Warren went on to explain that the issue first came out in 2012 when she was running for the Senate against Republican Scott Brown. Warren claimed that Republicans “honed in on this part of my history,” and accused the GOP of making a lot of “racial slurs.”

“So, my decision was, I’m just going to put it all out there,” Warren said.

“I can’t stop Donald Trump from what he’s going to do. I can’t stop him from hurling racial insults,” Warren said. “But what I can do is I can be in this fight for all of our families.”

Warren is the first Democrat to officially hint at the possibility of a 2020 presidential run, although the primary field is expected to be quite crowded eventually. She held events from Friday to Sunday in Council Bluffs, Sioux City, Storm Lake, Des Moines, and Ankeny. The potential candidate had coffee with former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack and met privately with Democrat activists in Des Moines and Ames.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) responded to Warren’s Iowa visit with a statement, which read in part: “Whether it was claiming she doesn’t intend to run for president last year, to announcing her candidacy for president during a government shutdown, or even falsely claiming Native American heritage, everything about Elizabeth Warren is completely fraudulent.”

At her stop in Ankeny, Warren delivered a strong message to females, a voting bloc she hopes to exploit in 2020. “I think the world changed on the day of the Woman’s March,” she declared. “It was the biggest protest rally in the history of the world, and millions of women across this country came off the sidelines — women who never thought they’d run for public office, women who never thought they’d volunteer in politics, but who decided their voices would be heard.”

So, Warren’s strategy for 2020 becomes clear: People should vote for her because of her gender. In other words, more of the same identity politics that swept Barack Obama to power in 2008. More appeals for votes based on a physical trait — in Warren’s case, the fact that she is female — rather than ideas. It’s an old story for Warren. Where once she furthered her career by claiming Native American heritage, now she hopes to claim the presidency on the basis of her X chromosomes.

It's the same old Democrat playbook. A vote for Warren, they’ll say, is a vote for history (or, perhaps, herstory?). In national elections, Democrats (and far too often Republicans, as well) care much more about what you look like than who you are.

Photo: AP Images

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