I like to keep an eye on the odds regarding who will be the Democratic nominee for President in 2020. Mostly, I am just waiting for The Rock’s name to appear on the list. It hasn’t yet, though Mark Zuckerberg is on there.
This week, a new leader atop the board: California Senator Kamala Harris.
Her stock has been rising in recent months, as she has made her way around the country on the Hillary circuit — events with big money donors in the Hamptons and Florida, meetings with Tim Kaine’s people in Virginia, and so on.
Except, when you understand the narrow framework within which the Democrats are working, Kamala Harris becomes not a candidate, but the candidate.
The fundamental platform Hillary Clinton campaigned on in 2016: any opposition to, or criticism of, Hillary is sexist. Where the trouble came, was when “racist” was added to this. Over the past 25 years, there have been few politicians more fundamental to systemic racism in the U.S. than Hillary Clinton. From “superpredators,” to dismantling welfare, to the incarceration state, to Robert Byrd, to selling the War in Iraq, to Obama in his African garb, to holding back women of color candidates within the party, and so on, there is Hillary Clinton.
It is difficult to tell someone they are racist because they don’t want to vote for a racist. (I am thinking mostly of people who voted for neither Hillary or Trump)
But the idea that everyone who opposes you is irredeemably deplorable is not only an election strategy for Democrats, it is an election explanation.
Rather than look at people’s distaste for Hillary’s ties to Wall Street, oil companies, military contractors, private prisons, and other titans of inequality — things on which new policies could perhaps be based — the explanation was instead that half the country was homogenous and irredeemable.
Understand that the Democrats intend to run in 2020 on this Paul vs. Saul framework:
Us = good, Them = Nazi. This makes Kamala Harris the obvious candidate.
It could be Elizabeth Warren, but you can imagine that every time she calls President Trump a racist, he will respond with his “Pocahontas” barb.
No, Kamala Harris is not only a rising star and a woman, but a woman of color.
But wait, you may be thinking, there are many up and coming women of color in the Democratic Party. What about them?
Why is it not someone like Pramila Jayapal, the national-level grassroots champion turned Washington State member of Congress, who is generating all the buzz, you may ask. Or what about Tulsi Gabbard, a Veteran and visible critic of Obama’s destructive, ineffective, and costly militarism, and the woman who resigned from her high-level position with the DNC early in the primary process, removing herself from the corruption which would be revealed many months later?
Yes … what about people like them?
After the 2016 election, with Democrats at their lowest point, an opportunity to begin to reconcile their fractured party was presented in the form of the selection of a new DNC Chair.
Keith Ellison was the frontrunner. At the time, Trump’s crazy idea of the moment was his “Muslim ban,” seemingly making Ellison, a Muslim, the ideal choice for Democrats.
Yet, Ellison was opposed by many in the Democratic elite, including President Obama and Hillary Clinton. He was subjected to a vigorous smear campaign in the purportedly “liberal” media. And, of course, he was not selected as Chair.
The result was explained across mainstream media — from Fox News to MSNBC, The New York Times to the New York Post — as a result of Ellison being “too left.”
Keith Ellison is best known for a few things. He is known for fighting tirelessly for worker’s rights, both in the halls of government and literally in the streets — Ellison has been arrested multiple times for protesting while serving in Congress. He is known for a non-interventionist military stance and his support of a peaceful two-state solution in Israel. He is known for his connection to the grassroots, not only to the benefit of his own campaigns, but to the benefit of the numerous causes he has been a part both before and after being elected.
Wait a minute … opposition to the military-industrial complex, support of worker’s rights, and a connection to the grassroots? Yeah, I suppose these things do make Ellison too “left” for the Democratic Party.
Kamala Harris, on the other hand, is best known at this point for being the darling of the big donors and the mainstream media, and for raising the ire of progressives in California during her time as Attorney General of the state.
In 2020, two characteristics are likely to determine the Democratic Party nominee: How well-positioned you are to exploit the simplistic dichotomy the Democrats will be campaigning with, and how tight you are with the big donors.
Nothing against Kamala Harris personally, but I am still hoping for The Rock. Then at least we will all know what this really is.