Lessons From the Donut Debacle

Centrist politics are as vacuous as their new political symbol


A few weeks ago, Nina Turner arrived with a crowd of activists at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to deliver the People’s Platform, a simple document agreed upon and endorsed by a number of progressive organizations, which lays out a demand for the so-called “party of the people” to align with the following basic proposals:

In other words: the People’s Platform demands for the Democratic party to represent the will of the people. These policies are the bare minimum of what we will accept from a party that named itself after democracy.

“All of these bills, if this country were a democracy, would pass immediately,” writes Alfonso KC, reporting on the people’s platform.

Presumably, due to the threat of these policies, which would help millions of people, Nina Turner and her group were met with barricades at DNC headquarters. Ultimately, Turner would not be allowed to deliver the platform and its 100,000+ signatures to the DNC.

But no worries, the DNC had donuts.

Nina Turner rejected the snacks that were brought out in concession, saying that:

They tried to seduce us with donuts and water… They’re pompous and arrogant enough to say to the people, you’re not good enough to be on our property — and, oh by the way, we’re just gonna hand you donuts and water over the barricade. That is insulting. Absolutely insulting.

The response on CentristNet was puzzling. On DailyKos, a Democratic partisan outlet which is now geared largely in defense of the party’s establishment, one blogger titled a postNina Turner gets upset over donuts and water. Really.

Venture into the comments section of that post and you will find lots of simple agreement with the “upset over a donut” thesis, and outrage at Nina Turner for “dividing the party.” (As opposed to, say, “pressuring the party to improve their policies, in order to help their constituents—which is how political change has historically worked, and how a representative democracy is supposed to work.”)

The trope was echoed all over Centrist Twitter. In classic Centrist form, any outrage was directed toward trivial actions and personal traits of the messenger, rather than the content or urgency of the message itself. Their contempt for a deeper form of democracy again laid bare.

It could have been a discussion on how to improve policy that would help more Americans; it could have been a discussion of the actual People’s Platform, its viability, and the actions of the DNC. But instead, the occurrence was disingenuously misconstrued as Nina Turner being too entitled to accept the DNC’s “donuts and water.”

Nina Turner doesn’t appreciate donuts? I mean, what is wrong with her?

Much of Centrist Twitter then followed suit, apparently with the irony escaping them that donuts are a quick-and-easy fix, devoid of nutritional value.

Donuts turn out to be a great symbol for their political anti-movement. This is what we call a “self-own,” even if they haven’t figured it out yet. A donut is insubstantial, easy to buy, and not very healthy in the end.

Donut Twitter is simultaneously a segment of society we should feel sorry for, in their Stockholm-syndrome induced shamelessness, and a parody of itself that is almost too rich to be true. Last week, the now-donut-wielding Nina Turner-haters vehemently disallowed skepticism of corporate-friendly “rising star” Kamala Harris, under the explicit defense that she’s a “woman of color,” and then turned around the very next week to misrepresent Nina Turner, attacking her personally for the most trivial thing imaginable—even though she’s a woman of color.


Hypocrisy at its finest, and a sign of their true values and priorities. Turns out their political battle is not about racial identity at its core, it’s about change versus keeping things the same. A defining trait of centrist ideology is to eschew change because change is uncomfortable. Nina Turner threatened the centrist view of easy politics, and challenged the supposition that “America is already great.” Kamala Harris? Not so much.

Donut users, you can keep the donut as your symbol, that’s fine. We will refer to it as donut ideology, because that’s what it is. We reject donut ideology; you think it’s good. I guess that’s how different we are.

Now I will know that whoever has a donut in their name for political reasons is a purveyor of fast-food politics. I’m glad they finally admit it, even if it was unintentional.

And if you feel shame now—if you’re not really a do-nut, stumping for the status quo under the facade of “social justice”—you are free at any time, of course, to escape the sugary trap and get some real food.

From where I sit, it’s to the Left of the donut shop.

Written by Sammy Kayes

Sammy Kayes is an educator and activist in Chicago. Follow him on Twitter @left_judo.

Sammy is a Guest Contributor to Progressive Army.

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Lessons From the Donut Debacle