Kamala Harris’ Heartbreaking Presidential Camapaign

Kamala Harris should be a front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president. Instead, the 55-year-old California senator has ended her presidential campaign. Now, we are left with the remains of a once-promising turned heartbreaking presidential campaign.

On paper it all made sense. Harris is a popular senator from the country’s biggest state with a large, energized, and dedicated support base. Of all the Democrats running for president, Harris was as much the opposite to Donald Trump that existed in the primary race.

After all, Kamala Harris is representative of the group that Donald Trump has reserved his most grotesque and appalling attacks for: minority women.

She could have legitimately staked claim to being the most electable candidate. Her background as a prosecutor left her uniquely suited to lay out a case for a one-term Trump presidency.  

The potential historic nature of her candidacy as a minority woman leading the Democrats into a general election battle could have unified all factions of the party. She could have also assembled a multi-racial coalition of voters not seen since Barack Obama’s candidacy. 

Her entrance into the race elicited comparisons, and nostalgia, to Barack Obama’s candidacy. But nostalgia can only carry one so far.  

The Harris campaign was done-in by the one thing that is hard to fix: the candidate.  

Issues with Harris’ Campaign Helped Derail her Candidacy

Multiple stories of persistent campaign tensions were published throughout her campaign. Reports from The Washington Post and The New York Times we’re damning assessments into how Harris was running her campaign.  

The tragedy of Kamala Harris’ campaign for president is that her promise as a nominee couldn’t outduel her self-inflicted wounds. 

Kamala Harris did not run a good campaign for President. While she energized and inspired many Democrats, her own mistakes as well as persistent campaign issues were too much to overcome. 

Harris stumbled trying to explain a variety of her positions. On healthcare, for example, she co-sponsored Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare-for-All” bill, but backed away from the plan during her campaign. She rose to second place in polls after her attack on Joe Biden’s record on busing, only to falter while explaining her past busing position.

Additionally, her record as a prosecutor and California Attorney General came under intense, and at times unfair, scrutiny from the progressive left. 

Harris had to introduce herself to voters who didn’t already know who she was. Introducing herself to voters was made difficult by failure to articulate her political identity and an inconsistent reasoning for running for president.

Kamala isn’t going anywhere. She is going to remain a significant player in the Democratic Party, and American politics, for a long time. She should be at the top of everyone’s list for vice presidential running mate for the eventual nominee.  

In the meantime, with Kamala out of the race, the Democratic Party must reckon with the fact that despite efforts to embrace diversity as a means to strengthen the party, the remaining front-runners for the nomination are all white.

Header Image: Quinn Dombrowski from Berkeley, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0].

Pete Buttigieg’s Authenticity Problem

 Pete Buttigieg’s authenticity problem is real.  

Two weeks ago small city mayor Pete Buttigieg heaped praise on to former Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy. It did not go well.

In an interview, Buttigieg said, while explaining his proposal to drastically reshape the Supreme Court, that “The idea here is you get more justices who think for themselves. Justices like Justice Kennedy.”  

What followed was a cascade of backlash across the liberal spectrum. Bernie Sanders went so far as to tweet “I’d like more justices like Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor.

Buttigieg’s assertion that Kennedy wasn’t tethered to any ideology is laughable. Although Kennedy was regarded as the court’s swing vote, he was still a committed conservative on the court who ruled more often against liberal causes than for them.

Supreme Court reform has been a pet project dog for the mayor during his candidacy. He made a splash when he proposed expanding the size of the court by adding six new justices, bringing the total number of justices to 15. Under the policy, the court would have five conservatives, five liberals, and five apolitical justices who would be chosen by the first ten.

His proposal to re-shape the Supreme Court is bold and controversial. The proposal helps satisfy a desire among Democrats to elevate the importance of the Supreme Court during the primaries, and general election.  

The policy, when it was first rolled out in June, helped to show voters and pundits that his mild demeanor, pragmatism, and Midwest folkiness didn’t hide progressivism.  

But Pete Buttigieg’s authenticity problem is that his comment about Kennedy wasn’t progressive. It was naive. 

The Kennedy comment underscores a central problem that Buttigieg has: Authenticity.  

Concerns about authenticity have historically only applied to female candidates. Buttigieg himself has questioned Elizabeth Warren’s authenticity, specifically whether she is offering false promises in the form of grand-scale policy proposals.

Medicare for all is one such Warren plan that Buttiegieg has criticized. He tried to torpedo Warren on the debate stage on how she’ll pay for her healthcare plan. The critique from Mayor Pete pissed off enough Warren supporters/activists with a twitter account to fill every NFL stadium. Warren has since released her plan on paying for an overhaul of the healthcare system. 

Pete’s bold court policy took a page out of Elizabeth Warren’s playbook of “big structural change.” The problem, however, for Mayor Pete is that you can’t push for big changes in one policy area and then pushback on other big changes like Medicare for All.  

If Buttigieg as any chance of winning the nomination, and then uniting the party behind him, then he can’t continue to shy away from being bold. 

Header Image: Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America [CC BY-SA 2.0]