Rejecting the Kamala Harris Hype

Presumably in anticipation of the 2020 Presidential race, my writing habits have slowed down over the last few months. Between November/2018 and January/2019 I wrote only 7 articles, covering the same topics I usually write about.

This is compared to the last three years, where the November-through-January months were prolific for me. Last year I posted 19 articles between that three-month time frame, the year before that 18, and the one before that another 19. It isn’t like there is less to write about now than there was then. I just think, aside from the obvious excuse that I’m working more nowadays, that there is less out there I genuinely give a shit about. (I could be wrong.)

Naturally as the impact of sports on my life has decreased, and the impact of politics on my life has increased, the effect it’s had on my blog has been directly proportional. It isn’t fair to say I love sports any less, or that by merely paying attention to politics it’s magically going to change the outcome of America. It’s more that I know, now better than ever, that I don’t have a real stake in any of my favorite sports teams. I get nothing tangible out of Patrick Mahomes throwing touchdown passes for the Kansas City Chiefs, or Zion Williamson throwing down epic dunks for Duke’s basketball team, or Joey Gallo dropping bombs for the Texas Rangers. While one could certainly argue that I’m also not getting much out of the ever-right-leaning political climate, it still means something because American politics do affect my life whether I like it or not.

Without any doubt, the most popular article I’ve written over the last two years was posted in August, 2017, titled Kamala Harris is not your friend. That particular blog has received more screen time than any other by a factor of roughly 8-to-1. In retrospect it plays more like an introduction, highlighting Kamala’s popularity within the Clinton (neoliberal) wing of the Democratic Party, while acknowledging the very real baggage she amassed in her time as California Attorney General.

It was not difficult to see, even then, that Harris was going to be a serious contender in 2020. The angle I offered two years ago was that she is both (a) black and (b) a woman, and that the mainstream Identity Politics crowd would fucking love her. Those types do not care that she didn’t prosecute Steve Mnuchin (who donated to her Senate bid) after he committed thousands of violations when he ran One West Bank, and they do not care that she argued in court against a parole program that would have granted early release to nonviolent offenders, saying “[California] would lose an important labor pool.”

It seems to me that the Identity Politics gang care only that Kamala Harris is black, and a black woman, at that, and therefore if you don’t like it then you’re either a racist or a sexist (or both). Personally I believe that’s a chickenshit way of politicking, the idea that people aren’t allowed to have legitimate grievances over a politician’s record if it happens to be a woman or person of color. (The same scenario played out with Hillary Clinton in 2016.) But these “journalists,” and “media members,” are the same who have spent the last three years trying to convince Americans that Bernie Sanders — the guy who got his political ideology from Martin Luther King Jr., and who defended homosexuals in the military in the 1990’s (before it was politically convenient) — attracts racists and sexists with his populist message. Essentially: Up is down, right is left, everything is backwards… you know how the story goes for people with no integrity.

I don’t understand why so many have found that Kamala Harris article compared to, say, anything I’ve written about the teacher’s strikes, or any of my Colin Kaepernick articles, but I’m not mad about it. It isn’t my favorite thing that I’ve written, and looking back it could have been a lot better, but one thing I did well was hit some of the right notes, at least in terms of where the Democratic Party was, and is.

Basically the Democratic Party hasn’t changed, and isn’t interested in changing. That was my whole message. The DNC still accepts corporate money, Party leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer still refuse to endorse overwhelmingly popular social programs such as Medicare For All, or raising the minimum wage. After their 2016 debacle that saw Hillary Clinton — a historically unpopular candidate, with more political baggage than any other Democrat that’s conceivable — the Party was probably hoping that Harris’s relative lack of experience would make her more difficult to criticize.

Predictably, the same Democratic Party that did almost every imaginable thing wrong in 2016 is at it again. It’s true that Kamala Harris doesn’t have as much baggage as Hillary Clinton. But that’s like saying your local drug dealer doesn’t have as much baggage as Pablo Escobar. Literally every Democrat is a better option in 2020 than Hillary was in 2016, for no other reason than the fact of Mrs. Clinton being so ridiculously disliked throughout the country.

I suppose where Harris is concerned there are two minds, depending on which side of the Democratic isle you happen to lean. If you sympathize with the Clinton camp, then you look at Harris’s lack of experience as a positive. Like she’s a blank slate. If you sympathize with the Progressive camp, then you comb through the things we know (such as the Mnuchin fiasco, or the prison labor comment) and wonder why anyone would expect her to be better on the issues looking ahead. To that end, having a lack of experience is kind of a double-edged sword. What good is having a lack of experience if her short track record doesn’t inspire confidence?

I think now is the time to say, since I am teetering on the edge of sounding like someone who actually gives a shit: If Kamala Harris is the Democratic nominee who opposes Trump in 2020, there is little doubt I would vote for her. I’m just saying I won’t be happy about it.

In backwards, upside-down land, the Democrats are trying to anoint Harris in 2020 the same way they did Hillary Clinton in 2016. After a whole two seconds of campaigning there have already been multiple super delegates come out in support of Harris, which is the first sign of the Party falling in line. Never forget that, despite the media narrative that the 2016 Democratic Primary was a landslide and Bernie Sanders should have dropped out months sooner, Hillary took only 53% of the pledged delegates, with Sanders taking the other 47%. It were the super delegates — an entirely undemocratic wrinkle of the Democratic Party primary process — that made the Clinton victory inevitable. And most of those super delegates came out in support of Hillary before Bernie ever entered the race, let alone making it a race.

So yeah, they are doing the same shit. For Harris, being the Chosen One has its benefits. But I would be weary of the same super delegates that supported Clinton, or even Hillary Clinton herself endorsing Kamala Harris, because again we are talking about the candidate who was unpopular enough to lose to Donald Trump. Hillary’s (likely) endorsement could actually hurt the California Senator, and give pause to Kamala’s supporters, if for nothing else that there is an inherent lack of trust in the Clinton family and of establishment politics in general. For all the Hillary Clinton flunkies to fall in line behind Harris sends a signal to voters that maybe, just maybe, she is the same old thing.

As always I would encourage you to do your own research and not just take me at my word. I stand behind everything I write, and while my critique of Senator Harris may be more aggressive than you would find at The Hill or The Daily Beast, it comes from a place that cares about what politicians do when they are in power. If their track record is consistent with helping ordinary people — rather than the bankers, and drug companies, and private prison complex — then I am on their side.

I can’t fall in line behind Harris because her lack of experience doesn’t tilt to the side of the oppressed, but of the oppressors. She didn’t prosecute Steve Mnuchin. She argued in court that early release of inmates would hurt California and their “volunteer” army of 90-cent-per-day inmate fire fighters. As AG she wanted to make truancy a crime for the parents of students who didn’t go to school. She speaks glowingly of Israel — a country that commits human rights violations on neighboring Palestine, with the help of American tax dollars at that — and of the need for the United States to remain close allies.

Even the things she is supposedly on the right side of — like Medicare For All, or not accepting PAC money — she only got there when it became politically acceptable. It wasn’t like she endorsed Bernie Sanders or his Medicare For All plan when he was in a race against Hillary Clinton, and it wasn’t like she didn’t benefit from corporate dollars to win her Senate bid in California. Up until about six months ago, there was nothing to distinguish her from your garden variety neoliberal.

But hey, if you want to run for President in 2020, then you better start speaking the language of populism. Bernie has dragged the Party kicking and screaming into paying lip service to Medicare For All. He has dragged the Clinton-type corporatists, like Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand and Cory Booker, into refusing corporate money. All of them know, just as I do and just as you do, that you aren’t going to win the 2020 Democratic Primary if you don’t talk like a lefty.

The reason I trust Bernie Sanders is because he has been talking about the same shit for like 30 years. It’s easy for me to envision him fighting for things that help ordinary Americans, since that has been his mission ever since he got involved in congress. I have less confidence in Harris — and Booker, and Gillibrand, and Beto O’Rourke — because they only came along when they saw the writing on the wall. I can’t accept that, at least not blindly. Not when my whole conception of a politician is basically that of a blatant liar. And not when the Democratic Party still seems more bent on bipartisan wet dreams than they are on giving in to the will of the people.

Ordinary workers are starving for change. Many voted for Donald Trump because he was anti-establishment, and because he tapped in to the anger and angst of the working class. Many cast their votes in protest in the one-in-a-hundred chance that Trump would be their savior, instead of giving their vote to Clinton, knowing if change would come, it could only come for the worse.

Love it or hate it, the 2020 Democratic candidate will have to reach out to these voters and offer them something better than the nothingness Trump has delivered. It won’t be enough to give the same “peace” and “love” and “stronger together” platitudes unless they are backed by legitimate policy substance. And where policy substance is concerned, there isn’t a better way to get voters on your side than proposing what they are already most interested in.

Among them are:

If you are looking for a blueprint to win, there’s your blueprint. As far as the Democrats are concerned, and more specifically Kamala Harris, it’s an open question whether she will support any one of these ideas. As far as we know, Medicare For All is the only one of these policies she has made any noise about, but she’s already walked back eliminating for-profit insurance companies — which is basically the only thing standing in the way. You are either for private insurance companies sucking dollars out of Americans, or you are for Americans getting proper care. You can’t have both, or else it’s called Obamacare (which is unpopular).

Okay, now that I’m beyond the 2,000 word mark I’ll get this show on the road. Mainstream news outlets are going to call people like me a Russian bot, or a sexist, or a racist, for my opposition to centrists like Kamala Harris. But the record is out there. It’s public. I don’t reject corporate candidates just for the hell of it; they do it to themselves. And I don’t just support Bernie Sanders because I like the guy’s personality. I do it because he is the best of a sad bunch, and he gives the left their best chance of beating Trump in 2020.