On Thursday, The New York Times reported that one-time Democratic 2020 presidential frontrunner Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) had fallen on hard times politically. Those hard times were brought about, according to the Times, by Warren’s bizarre decision to undergo a DNA test of her ancestry, then reveal that she could have been 1/1024th Native American:
But nearly two months after Ms. Warren released the test results and drew hostile reactions from prominent tribal leaders, the lingering cloud over her likely presidential campaign has only darkened. Conservatives have continued to ridicule her. More worrisome to supporters of Ms. Warren’s presidential ambitions, she has yet to allay criticism from grass-roots progressive groups, liberal political operatives and other potential 2020 allies who complain that she put too much emphasis on the controversial field of racial science — and, in doing so, played into Mr. Trump’s hands.
Herein lies the hilarious story of a white woman trying to pass herself off as a member of a minority group for the purpose of satisfying the intersectional base of the Democratic Party. Other Democratic politicians have merely paid lip service to intersectionality – politicians like Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY):
Our future is:
Powered by our belief in one another.
And we’re just getting started.
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) December 5, 2018
But Warren went further. In an attempt to prove that she could compete with other minority candidates, she decided to go along with President Trump’s DNA challenge and spit into a cup for political benefit. The result: she looked patronizing and ridiculous.
It’s important to recall here that the media’s first take on Warren’s DNA test was that it had helped her – that she had showed her opponents just how honest she was about her ancestry. But thanks to the diffusion of media sources, that claim was debunked out of the gate. Now Warren’s being taken down by her own side.
Racial justice advocates, keen to cast race as a socially constructed issue with little biological grounding, said Ms. Warren’s actions gave validity to the idea that race is determined by blood, a bedrock principle for those who believe in racial hierarchies and castes…. In interviews, several progressives wondered if Ms. Warren’s decision to take the DNA test was indicative of a larger problem for several prospective presidential candidates: that their inner circles of advisers don’t reflect the racial diversity of the Democratic electorate.
Former advisors have come forward to complain about Warren’s judgment to the Times. And hard-core progressives are upset with Warren attempting to hijack the intersectional movement in order to forward her career aspirations.
So, what’s a rich, white, well-educated woman to do in today’s Democratic Party? Bow the knee, of course. But Warren has shown no inclination to do so thus far, and it’s not clear exactly how she could without undermining her own credibility. President Trump obviously trolled Warren into damaging herself, and now any attempts to bandage the wound risk opening it further.
As the 2020 race heats up, then, the Democratic field seems to be separating into Tier 1 candidates and everyone else. Tier 1 would include establishment pick and former vice president Joe Biden, intersectional darling and California Senator Kamala Harris, and Sanders bro flavor of the month Beto O’Rourke. But Warren, who used to have crossover appeal to all of these groups, seems to have fallen into the gap between them. Score one for President Trump. And remember that the fault lines between the three branches of the Democratic Party are quite real, and not all that easy to navigate.