Democrats often float the inaccurate meme that Republicans are the party of old, white people. While the GOP certainly needs to better connect with African-Americans and Hispanics, it was historic that last night Iowa Republicans gave a combined 60 percent of their caucus vote to two Latinos (Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio) and an African-American (Ben Carson).
Cruz is age 45 and Rubio is just 44; Carson is 64. Yet Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, the two Democratic presidential contenders, both elderly white people, have a combined average age of 71; both are old enough to qualify for Medicare. Does this raise questions about who speaks for the future vs. the past? Perhaps, but Republican Ronald Reagan was in his late 70s by the time he left office, though his ideas were vibrant and his sunny disposition knocked years off his telegenic personae.
But let’s look at the flip side here. Despite last night’s historic Republican outcome (and in a very white state), perhaps one day we’ll live in a country where a candidate is judged not by their skin color or their age. Unfortunately progressives too often bitterly frame the world through a racial or agist lens rather than a lens based on ideas, policy and outcomes.
Television forever changed the game of presidential campaigning by favoring the most camera-friendly candidate (John F. Kennedy’s victory over Richard Nixon solidified this reality). So while this time around the camera would appear to favor Republicans, should physical traits really be deciding factors at the ballot box? Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.,’s speech calling for judgment on the content of character rather than skin tone suggests otherwise.Photo by Gage Skidmore
Carrie Sheffield is the founder of Bold. She is passionate about storytelling to empower and connect others. A founding POLITICO reporter, Carrie contributed on political economy at Forbes and wrote editorials for The Washington Times. After earning a master’s in public policy from Harvard University, she managed credit risk at Goldman Sachs and researched for American Enterprise Institute scholar Edward Conard. She earned a B.A. in communications at Brigham Young University and completed a Fulbright fellowship in Berlin.