We will never know exactly what the alternative would have been, but Mike Allen at Axios broke the news of what Hillary Clinton’s prospective cabinet might have looked like, according to members of her campaign that he spoke to.
There are, of course, few surprises on the list — this is the Hillary Clinton campaign, after all — and it contains a fairly diverse set of names, including a high percentage of women and a number of minorities as well.
Then one comes to the prospective EPA nominee. No one is named. The entry is simply “Likely an African American.”
The Clinton campaign intended a certain level of diversity in the cabinet, of course, and there is nothing wrong with that. The problem with this entry is that no one is named and the only criteria is the ethnicity of the pick. It is clearly intended tokenism.
It would be somewhat forgivable had this list been one of early prospects. Though the goal of the campaign with this position would still have been a cynical attempt to pad their diversity numbers, at least the excuse could be proffered that little consideration had yet gone into the specific member of the list.
But as Allen notes, “By Election Day, [Clinton’s] roster was so refined that most jobs just had one name.” [Emphasis Allen’s] In other words, despite the fact that the list appears to be in its final stages, the campaign could not come up with even one name of an African-American it was interested in picking for the position.
(Nor could they for Education Secretary, a position which the list also suggests the campaign was interested in filling with an unnamed African-American, though former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm and former NYU president John Sexton were explicitly named as being in the mix.)
No doubt there are a number of African-Americans qualified to run the EPA (and the Department of Education). Furthermore, the Trump transition team has picked a man who just four years ago suggested he would do away with the organization, so a pick intended to make a political point need not be off the table.
Yet the Clinton campaign did not come up with anyone. The only qualification had to do with skin color. I cannot think of a better example of tokenism than for a campaign implicitly to say “we need to pick an African-American, and it doesn’t really matter who.”
This is an insult to every well-qualified African-American who could have been a prospective pick, but apparently wasn’t. It is blatant hypocrisy from a party that routinely calls black Republicans “tokens.”
But I suppose that sort of condescension is to be expected from the side of the aisle that calls Senator Tim Scott and William Smith, former chief counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee and ex-staffer for Senator Jeff Sessions, “house ni**as” [edit mine] — to which Senator Scott responded with the tweet of the year.
Though predictable, this is something the Clinton campaign should be held accountable for in 2017.