It has been amusing to watch President Trump’s hilarious upsurges and badly hidden rage concerning his Republican party’s loss of the House of Representatives. His encounter with CNN’s Jim Acosta was analogous to watching an inexperienced cover teacher trying to behaviourally manage a teen ridden high-school class. . .and miserably failing. Trump would like to think he commands fear and respect, when in fact he implores none of either. The bluster of Trump aside, these midterm elections were a judgement on Republican party policy – their unpopular tax legislation and obstruction of the Affordable Care Act– as well as a red-carpet roll-out for those democrats who will be running for President in 2020.
Kamala Harris, during the election cycle, travelled to 15 states to campaign and showcase her stage presence on behalf of two dozen Democratic candidates – ending her support run with a four-day bus tour through California. She even managed to raise or donate 9 million dollars to aid the party’s midterm cause. Harris, however, was not the only Democrat who showed their gusto during the midterms, but she has perhaps done enough to affirm herself as the emblem of the party.
Harris had a position on the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Kavanuagh Supreme Court confirmation hearing; a hearing which was stooped in controversy, scandal, vociferous anger and, more to the point, exposure. Harris knew this hearing would be a thorn in American politics for years-to-come and captured her opportunity with poignant questioning, where her prosecutor experience had its chance to seep through. Harris quickly exchanged the prestige she obtained for something American politics really deals in: money. A week after the hearing Harris raised $450, 000 through an email solicitation to back a (unsuccessful) re-election campaign for Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp.
Harris, then, is capable of being opportunistic in order to raise some big money, but, as her appearances on the campaign trail exhibited, she is also capable of garnering an emotional reaction from a crowd. And emotions are the fuel that gets voters to the polls in the morning, afternoon and evening. Her guest appearance at a rally for Jacky Rosen, who would go onto unseat the Republican Senator in Nevada, was met with a collective feeling of excitement, hope and trust, all coiled into one prolonged outburst. “Senator Harris has made her mark in the senate in a very short period of time, which isn’t easy to do,” Stephany Cutter, Obama’s former deputy campaign manager, told Vanity Fair. Cutter went further, saying “She’s a real contender, not just because she’s an African-American woman, but because she’s inspiring and has a cut-through-the-bullshit-and-get-things-done quality. However, there’s a pool of senators running, and they all have to think about how to distinguish themselves in a very crowded race.”
Harris, as aforementioned, garners emotional support as well as money. She’s also shown herself to be sharp and dynamic with a healthy side of self-importance and a main of intellect. These are all traits that should be synonymous with the term President, yet, are these traits enough for Harris to beat Trump?
In order to beat Trump, and swing his voters, a candidate practically must be a walking paradox. For instance, a candidate has to be “say it how it is” yet non-offensive to either the political left or right – who both employ their own form of political correctness; you must be a Bible carrying evangelical but must also be willing to stagnate poor people’s wages. You must oppose Obama care in favour of the free market and, conversely, promise “no cuts. . .to Medicaid,” as well as “insurance for everybody.” President Trump can simultaneously be the least corrupt, most Christian and seemingly the most socialist candidate ever, as well as being or acting against all those principles, all in the space and time of just one press conference alone. This will not be so for any Democratic candidate.
For Harris to win the 2020 Presidential election, therefore, she must pick the battles that will swing just enough voters and accept the election will not be a landslide. So, what are the traits that would get Presidential candidate Harris over the line?
She must be ethically pristine: meaning no meaningful connection with Wall Street or the like that cannot be explained away with one short sentence and 10-minutes of media coverage. People among the distribution of both major parties are sick from any whiff of corruption. As seen in 2006 – indicated by the Democrats winning the house campaigning against a “culture of corruption – and in 2016: demonstrated by the way Hillary Clinton could not bifurcate herself away from her big money connections. Harris has at times showcased a Hillary Clinton-esque propensity to talk-the-talk but not walk-the-walk. For instance, Harris refused to prosecute former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s company OneWest for multiple cases of alleged illegal foreclosure, against the guidance of her own Consumer Law Section – thus far, she has refused to say why and, coincidentally, was the lone Senate Democratic candidate to get a contribution from Mnuchin himself in 2016. The left of the Democratic party will find this suspicious as well as un-pure to the cause, and Trump will use it to invent a dullard nick-name for Harris – remember “crooked” Hillary.
The majority of Trump voters, moreover, are emotionally driven by a fear of losing their status rather than by any kind of economic anxiety. In other words, the role that identity politics will play for some white females but mostly white males, will be a major factor in 2020. Harris’ racial identity, as ethically unsavoury as it is, does not play well for her in relation to those would be swing voters. Harris, however, is not above stomping in the scourge that is identity politics, which may perpetuate the victimhood culture among the white Trump base; there’s a reason why “Make America Great Again” [italics mine] latches onto the mind of the Trump voter with such efficacy. Harris has been found guilty of playing on her gender-hood to anger her own supporters, too. Attempting to stoke the high-running emotions of women groups during the Kavanaugh hearing, Harris cut a clip of Kavanaugh describing the birth control position of a plaintiff to make it seem as though they were his own personal views. This gifted her the accolade of four Pinocchios by the Washington Post.
Kamala Harris has positioned herself well within the apparatus of the Democratic party, using her extraordinary flare, stage presence and intellect to garner support. She has proven herself popular with some on the left, but her name comes easiest off the tongues of those in the centre. She is, however, susceptible to the lore of identity politics and is no stranger to the back-rooms of politics where the big money is accrued. In other words, she has the smacking of Hillary Clinton all over her: establishment, corrupt and a person who wants to “take America away from the white man.” Without normalcy being resumed in the near future, this is a chess board Trump would fancy his chances on.