Friday, August 14, 2020

Kamala, LFG, FTW!

I am pretty jazzed that Joe Biden picked Kamala Harris to be his running mate.  The younger members of my family are less so.  So, let me explain why I am jazzed and why they should not be disappointed.

First, we are facing a classic ethnic conflict kind of election: homogeneous party seeking to outbid the other party on being the best defender of that one group vs a multiethnic party seeking to hold its coalition together.  Trump is tripling down on white supremacy.  I feared that Biden might worry more about appealing to white working class voters than to the base of the Democratic Party.  Nope, he doubled down, picking someone who is exactly what the white supremacists hate--a strong, multiracial woman, daughter of immigrants, married to a Jewish dude.  I just love that.  And, yes, the racial and misogynist attacks have already begun, including birtherism. Biden isn't going to win by running away from those who got him the nomination.  He needs to turn out the party more than attract those who voted for Trump.

Second, I wanted someone with political experience and campaign experience.  That ruled out Susan Rice (who also has a reputation as being awful to her staff, not unlike Klobuchar).  Harris was not afraid to confront Biden in the debates even if she didn't make it to Iowa.  She did win tough primaries in state races (I had no idea the Dems never nominated someone for P/VP from California).
Third, Kamala Harris is of the modern age.  She might not be as agile on social media as AOC, but, then again, who is?  But she does that stuff well.  She is only slightly older than me, so she is not the same old baby boomer (although technically not yet Gen X, alas).  I desperately wanted a presidential candidate in her 50's, which is one reason I was not an early Warren fan.

Fourth, Harris is smart, and I value that a lot.  She masters stuff and then uses it to rip GOP folks to shreds.  She can make the case on the campaign trail (whatever that is in a pandemic) that the Trump Administration is corrupt, incompetent, and dangerous.  The only other candidate who could do that as well would be Warren.  The traditional division of labor is for the VP nom to be the one throwing the knives, letting the Presidential nominee appear to be nice.

My younger relatives tend to believe, I think, that Harris is not sufficiently left-wing and that they preferred Stacey Abrams.  One of the arguments is that Biden didn't pick her because she is overweight.  I haven't seen it, but I can imagine that one could criticize Biden for picking a Black woman who is of lighter skin.  It could be the case that these things drove Biden's decision, but I am thinking that Biden picked Harris because:
a) she ran (Abrams did not) so she has greater name recognition and has been tested
b) she has won at the state level (Abrams has not)
c) she had a personal connection via Beau Biden and Attorney General club.
d) the Dems have chosen Senators for my entire lifetime with one exception--Geraldine Ferraro (and Mondale probably have picked a Senator had there been any Dem woman in the Senate in 1984--a few female GOP senators but no Dems--FFS!)

I get it that Harris is seen as too pro-cop and too pro-law and order.  She was an Attorney General and did support prosecutions that she says she would not support now.  Her more recent stances, I think, matter more, and she has been pushing for the right stuff over the summer regarding Black Lives Matter.

Harris also happens to have one of the most progressive voting records in the Senate.  One can quibble with how that stuff is measured, but she is not Manchin or McCaskill.  One could argue that she is an opportunist, moving left only when it was politically convenient.  Maybe, but I don't mind politicians seeking to represent their constituency.  As the constituency moves (especially if it is in the correct direction), so should they. 

Folks may be upset because this gives Harris the inside track on the nomination in 2024 if Biden doesn't run again or if he doesn't make it to 2024.  I see this as a good thing--that we need someone who can govern if Biden can't continue.  2024?  We shall see.  I think it will be too early for AOC (I like AOC a lot but would prefer to see her win a state-wide race before seeking the nomination).  Abrams?  I hope she gets an important position in the Biden Administration, which can then be a launching pad.

Anyhow, Biden committed to a women as VP and then committed to a woman of color.  He kept his commitments, and Harris is an excellent choice.  I would have preferred Harris as P or Warren, but we didn't get that.  Politics is always about making choices and dealing with tradeoffs, often between things that are not perfect.  The good news is that the younger Saidemans will be voting for Biden/Harris because they know that Trump/Pence has been and will be catastrophic. 

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