After eight years with a black man in the White House, the left still has no idea how to talk about African American politicians. Nowhere is this clearer than the ongoing conversation around Kamala Harris of California, the first Indian-American and only the second black woman to be elected to the Senate. Harris is the Berkeley-bred daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica. The former California attorney general grew up attending civil rights rallies, and she recently dominated headlines for her tough questioning during the Senate Intelligence Committee’s hearings on Donald Trump’s campaign’s alleged ties to Russia. And her rising star status has set her up as a focal point of the the latest battle between the center and the left.
As Mic’s Andrew Joyce reported in July, Harris has a “Bernieland problem.” Joyce homed in on the hypocrisy of leftists who criticize Harris for her allegedly lukewarm support for progressive causes, quoting a Bernie Sanders organizer who had called on Harris to support universal health care, free college, a federal $15 hour minimum wage, criminal justice reform, and the expansion of social security programs. Harris, it turns out, had already announced her support for all five of those proposals.
Joyce was hinting at a broader criticism often leveled at Harris’s detractors—that racism and sexism, not real policy differences, are the driving forces behind the left’s animosity toward Harris.
Three days later, writing in The Week, Ryan Cooper tried to make the case that policy, in fact, is at the heart of the debate. Don’t worry, he assured us in a column titled “Why leftists don’t trust Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Deval Patrick,” it has nothing to do with bigotry—the left objects to these three possible presidential contenders because they would fail a progressive purity test. Cooper pointed to Harris’s controversial track record as a prosecutor; to Patrick’s ties to Bain Capital, the much maligned private equity firm Mitt Romney founded in 1984; and to Booker’s close relationship with Wall Street and “the despised donor class.” (New Republic)