The Campaign Against Biden’s Cabinet Picks of Color Is Depressingly Familiar
The opposition to the nominations of Deb Haaland and Xavier Becerra follows a familiar trend on the right
This week, as the U.S. Senate began the nomination hearings for President Biden’s Cabinet nominees, I saw a familiar pattern develop. Regardless of their actual record and without even having a chance to discuss it, nominees of color, such as Deb Haaland, Neera Tanden, and Xavier Becerra, have been painted as “famously partisan” people with “radical” ideas.
This is not the first time I’ve noticed such a trend. At the height of the 2020 election, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s name was frequently invoked as a foe in ads for Republican candidates in races across the country, an obvious boogeywoman the GOP could point to in order to scare its constituents into voting red. The reason AOC was targeted, other than her high name recognition, was clear to those who pay close attention to electoral politics.
“It is easier strategically to cue conceptions of extremism with those who bring with them identities that don’t represent what has been the norm in terms of political power,” Kelly Dittmar, director of research and a scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics, told me at the time. Haaland, Tanden, and Becerra all would make history if confirmed to their posts. Haaland would be the first Native American to become interior secretary, Tanden would be the first Indian American person to lead the Office of Management and Budget, and Becerra would be the first Latino secretary of Health and Human Services.
I can’t help but think that people of color are once again being held to impossibly high standards by opportunistic partisans.
It’s safe to say that people with their heritage have not been widely represented in government, and this has allowed Republicans, aided to an extent by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, to paint each nominee as a rabble-rouser with a troubling, radical record.
Manchin’s current position is not very surprising. The West Virginia senator supported more of President Trump’s nominees than any…