The matchup between Donna Edwards and also Chris valve Hollen is a case study in the way Democratic national politics are changing on problems of identity.

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Race and gender are front and center in the Maryland U.S. Senate main race in between Chris valve Hollen and Donna Edwards. Valve Hollen, a white man, and Edwards, a black color woman, room both autonomous members of conference from Maryland contending to replace the state’s retiring senator, Barbara Mikulski. The chair is considered safely Democratic, and also whoever emerges victorious in the April 26th primary is expected to prevail in the November general election. In the closing job of the race, however, disputes over identity have actually proven divisive.


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Democrats have actually long marketed themselves as responsive to the pertains to of the marginalized, including black and women voters. Yet the standard-bearers of the democratic Party are significantly emphasizing race and gender in campaigns and policies. Autonomous presidential contenders Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have actually made overt appeals to different demographic groups and also grounded varying aspects of your agendas ~ above the idea that different forms of inequality linked to identity have the right to overlap and compound one another.

The Maryland matchup has actually proven competitive, despite Van Hollen has actually pulled ahead in current polls. No matter who wins, the challenge has exposed a rift among Democrats end the relative importance of identity and also the degree to i m sorry it need to be emphasized in politics. As highly visible Democrats progressively devote fist to topics favor race and gender, that rift may thrive wider. It could likewise create potential political peril for any candidate who battles to articulate just how his own identification fits right into the party’s wider political vision.

Van Hollen and also his supporters have functioned hard to cast the congressman together a politician with a track record of gaining results. Edwards has actually insisted that she too has actually a well-established history of transferring for constituents, however has also made race and also gender a central part of she pitch. “There are just 20 females in the Senate. There space no black color women,” she said at a recent event in Baltimore, according to MSNBC. “What i would add to the U.S. Senate is a different kind the life experience and also that would inform how I feel about public policy.” If elected, Edwards would come to be the second black woman ever before to join the Senate.

To hear Edwards call it, the an individual is political, and her identity as a black woman and single mother has shaped that she is together a candidate and also what she has actually done in office. “I’m dumbfounded by Democrats who don’t see the worth of race and gender as part of a mix of that we space on public and private lives,” Edwards said BuzzFeed recently.

As the Edwards project has highlighted her race and gender, the van Hollen campaign"s message, amplified by supporters, has actually been that voter should emphasis on track record and political vision over all else. “Diversity is important,” Rushern Baker III, the ar executive for Prince George’s county in Maryland and also a van Hollen supporter, said earlier this month, follow to The Washington Post. “But what’s more important is human being get things done.” A statement from valve Hollen supporters identified as “Maryland Civil civil liberties leaders” circulated by the campaign in at an early stage April read: “Chris forges deep and lasting relationships with a diverse range of people and organizations, represents their interests, and also secures the an important resources that move Maryland forward. That is not about race, gender, creed or color—it is around a person. And also that human being is kris Van Hollen.”


Democrats and Republicans both benefit by appealing to voters’ identities. Look at no more than Donald Trump’s resonance v white, working-class voters. Still, the hatchet “identity politics” is commonly used as a pejoretive by conservatives that accuse liberals of provoking department on problems of race and also gender for political gain. The Maryland primary race is a reminder that those ~ above the left fixed agree unanimously the markers of identity such as “race, gender, creed or color” have to be foregrounded in politics, or at least not by candidates themselves.

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Earlier this month, Politico reported the one van Hollen supporter, Baltimore City Council president Bernard “Jack” Young, a Democrat, “called Edwards’ focus on ‘identity politics’ misplaced. ‘I don’t think skin color should issue when you’re looking at that can get things done,’” Young commented. In turn, Edwards has argued that her opponents have used disagreements typically deployed by conservatives. “It’s sad to have Democrats using terms prefer ‘identity politics,’” Edwards told BuzzFeed, adding, “Those room not our words. Those space the indigenous of the right.”

Van Hollen’s supporters, meanwhile, have actually made the situation that while he may be a white man, he deserve to still it is in the better candidate ~ above such concerns as access to abortion. In a letter released in The Baltimore Sun, more than 1,000 women established as “staunch Democrats and feminists” composed that castle share the mission that EMILY’s list “to elect pro-choice females to office.” however while the fundraising organization is backing Edwards, these ladies wrote that they support Van Hollen since they room “united by our mutual commitment to electing the most outstanding candidates to political office—candidates who have a successful track document of effecting change on the many worries that matter to us.” The letter goes on to list off legislative accomplishments by the congressman such as his “100 percent ratings native Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro choice America, and also the American combination of college Women.”

Maryland voter will quickly decide i beg your pardon candidate they prefer. If the democratic Party move toward an increasing emphasis top top race, gender and also other markers of identity, candidates will most likely feel more pressure to articulate the means in which identity shapes their own approach to politics. That may be comparatively much easier to achieve for candidates favor Edwards 보다 for candidates prefer Van Hollen. He might win this race, but there’s risk ahead because that Democrats that can’t communicate sophisticated views ~ above identity.