CHARLESTON, S.C. — The élites are losing control. Donald Trump is president, and Bernie Sanders is on the verge of locking up the Democratic nomination. Both scenarios offend the delicate sensibilities of our ruling class, which is why many assumed they could never happen. After all, what is the point of having a ruling class if the unwashed masses don't respect its wisdom and refuse to support its approved candidates?
Former vice president Joe Biden's first career primary win in South Carolina has done little to forestall the reckoning that awaits the Democratic Party on Super Tuesday, when Sanders will likely accumulate enough delegates to ensure that no single candidate can surpass him. The only way to prevent the independent socialist from securing the nomination will be to steal it from him at the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee. Yeah, good luck with that.
Biden's victory in South Carolina is, from the élite perspective, a welcome development. In terms of significance, however, it pales in comparison to the collapse of South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), the Ivy-League candidates who best represent the "woke" sensibilities of the ruling class. Their fourth and fifth-place finishes, respectively, are a testament to élite futility in 2020.
Warren is by far the most "woke" of the remaining candidates. She was one of the first primary candidates to list her pronouns (she/her) on her campaign Twitter account and to use the activist-inspired term "Latinx" on the debate stage. She's the top-rated candidate by the Center for Urban and Racial Equity. She was endorsed by the activist group Black Womxn For, as well as "Squad" member Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D., Mass.), who has praised Warren's "intersectional policy." Just days before the South Carolina primary, musician John Legend joined Warren on stage at a rally in Charleston, where he proceeded to serenade the almost entirely white audience.
The highly educated, highly compensated, Acela-corridor class of professional pundits has been absolutely flummoxed by Warren's lack of success among actual voters. The same could be said of several candidates who already dropped out, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.), Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.), and failed Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke.
In fairness to Warren, she was already faltering long before her lack of support among black voters (just 4 percent in South Carolina, according to an NBC News exit poll) became a matter of public record. Her popularity among minority activists and scholars, whose opinions are highly likely to be embraced by official party organs—and filtered through the media—did not translate into support from regular voters.
Buttigieg, on the other hand, isn't very popular among minority activists. He's more "woke" than Biden and hasn't publicly praised any segregationists, but his record on racial issues as mayor continues to be a source of controversy. It even followed him to South Carolina, where the South Bend chapter of Black Lives Matter handed out fliers highlighting the "systemic racism under Mayor Pete" at a Buttigieg rally in Columbia.
Though Buttigieg vastly outperformed Warren in the majority-white enclaves of Iowa and New Hampshire, he fell off a cliff in South Carolina, where he won just 2 percent of the black vote. Not surprising, given that Buttigieg's rallies in South Carolina were aesthetically identical to his rallies in Iowa and New Hampshire. In other words, white AF.
If anyone is looking for the white people, I found them all! About 2,000 folks in line for @PeteButtigieg event in Columbia! Holy mother of Pearl. #sc2020 #scpol #Democrats2020 pic.twitter.com/4ZJd7sz00B
— Laurin Manning Gandy (@laurinmanning) February 29, 2020
Not that Buttigieg didn't try to win the support of black voters. It's just that his tactics—preemptively celebrating the endorsements of prominent black figures who hadn't actually endorsed him, then begging them to reconsider—weren't very effective. It certainly didn't help that Buttigieg's vibe—student-body president who excelled at homework and founded the "Racial Justice Society" in high school—is extremely annoying.
Instead, the 38-year-old candidate had to settle for discussing race in a way that appealed to his core demographic of white liberals: apologizing for his white privilege and reassuring supporters that being vaguely concerned about climate change is a great way to express opposition to racism. Because few things appeal to white liberals more than the idea of training minority workers to assemble and install solar panels, all paid for by raising taxes on everyone who earns slightly more money than they do. Two birds, one stone. Problem solved.
It is fitting, and perhaps predictable, that Buttigieg and Warren faltered so dramatically as soon as the primary campaign arrived in a state with a population that reflects the diverse demographics of the Democratic electorate. In the interest of putting their epic failure in South Carolina in perspective, consider that they both lost to this guy:
Democratic presidential hopeful Tom Steyer when the beat dropped … pic.twitter.com/qTL5MepogO
— Mitti Hicks (@MittiMegan) February 29, 2020