The Corner

Elections

Why Doesn’t Eric Swalwell Just ‘Pass the Mic’ Now?

California representative Eric Swalwell arrives to speak at the North America’s Building Trades Unions legislative conference in Washington, D.C., April 10, 2019. (Yuri Gripas /Reuters)

Flailing Democratic presidential candidate Eric Swalwell would like everybody to know that he may be a white man, but he’s not one of those white men that you should dislike. In a recent interview with Vice News, Swalwell explained that:

A white guy who doesn’t see other identities, or understand other experiences should not be president. I do. And where there would be gaps in my knowledge or my experience, I will pass the mic to people who do have that experience. I’ve also pledged that I would ask a woman to serve as vice president.

Which raises the obvious question: Why doesn’t Swalwell just decline to run in the first place? Why “pass the mic” at all, rather than let someone else have it to start with? And why “ask a woman to serve as vice-president” instead of getting out of the way completely so that a woman has a better shot at becoming president?

There are two plausible answers to these questions, neither of which is flattering. The first is that Swalwell does not actually believe a word of what he is saying, but really wants to be president and knows that he needs to say this sort of thing so that he does not disqualify himself from contention. The second is that Swalwell does believe what he is saying, but also believes himself to be so indispensable as a potential president that the best he can do without damaging the country is hand over some subordinate positions to those whom he believes have been overlooked. There is no third option.

At some point, this question is going to roil the Democratic primary — especially if the white-male candidates continue to dominate polling. And when it does, the ensuing argument is going to be fascinating. There is only one coherent answer to the question, “Why do you think you should be president, as opposed to anyone else?” and that answer is, “We are all individuals; none of us can help what color we are, or what other immutable characteristics we exhibit; I don’t want there to be any restrictions on who can run; but I believe myself to be the best candidate.” To most people, this answer sounds eminently reasonable. Within the bizarro world that the identity politics crowd has constructed, however, it is tantamount to murdering a puppy. Fun times lie ahead.

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