Some Democrats won’t feel the burn for Kamala Harris, but should it matter?
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When Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) was seemingly being promoted as the Democratic Party’s next presidential hopeful, many on the left immediately got excited.

Finally, the party and its elite had gotten past the “Hillary can still win” phase and found someone who more resembles President Obama.

Harris is a freshman senator without an extensive voting record to be manipulated, she’s sharp and outspoken. She has a relatively long history fighting for criminal justice reform in many areas. However, some on the farther left end of the spectrum have reservations.

Many of the Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill Dems fear lasting damage from Clinton-Sanders fight MORE faithful are not happy with Harris’ promotion by the party.

They’ve given several reasons for their dissatisfaction. Some say she is corporate and will be beholden to Wall Street.

Others point to her work as a prosecutor, where she allegedly failed to prosecute banks despite evidence of misconduct. Harris also is said to have “defended convictions of prosecutors who lied under oath.”

 

She also fought to deny a transgender woman gender reassignment for a transgender California prison inmate.

Some including Kamala Harris herself have warned that searching for ideological purity or the perfect candidate will hurt not only the party but the country. They are correct.

However, what will hurt the party and country even more is making the far left feel disenfranchised. One reason the so-called “Bernie Bros” felt angry with Clinton was that it appeared to be coronation. They are a significant group on the left, yet a few donors make the decision about the future of the party.

In addition, mainline party members accuse them of sexism and racism without a solid basis for the allegation. Their dislike for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden slams Trump over golf gif hitting Clinton Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax hit by earlier hack | What to know about Kaspersky controversy | Officials review EU-US privacy pact Overnight Tech: Equifax hit by earlier undisclosed hack | Facebook takes heat over Russian ads | Alt-right Twitter rival may lose domain MORE and Debbie Wasserman-Shultz certainly was not based on race, as one would be hard pressed to find anyone whiter than those two.

Clinton was undoubtedly and unequivocally a victim of sexism during her campaign, but to paint all Sanders supporters with that broad brush is mistaken.

The point that everyone seems to be missing is that the Sanders wing want a stake in the party’s future. They resent when it appears that decisions are made by billionaire donors, especially since their primary issue has been income inequality.

Harris has just fallen within the crosshairs, and as we’ve seen in the past, even a direct endorsement from Sanders himself won’t help. The problem is that mainline party supporters like MSNBC’s Joy Reid and others think the answer is to lash out with equal anger in defense.

Their response is understandable, since as Melissa Harris-Perry states in her book Sister Citizen, “Black women in America have always had to wrestle with derogatory assumptions about their character and identity.”

The truth is neither side can win without the other.

The Bernie supporters must recognize the core of the party is comprised of African-American women.

If their dissatisfaction with Democrats is ideological and not racist or sexist, they should find women of color and put their resources behind them in congressional districts and local elections around the country.

They are better served by attempting to expand their reach to Black women, rather than bellyaching over their inclusion into the establishment. If they are able to garner significant support from African American women, they will fundamentally shift the party.

If they refuse they will prove their detractors right about their racial biases and remain on the political fringes.

The other thing they have to do is be willing to negotiate with Harris and other candidates and allow them the opportunity to win their support. The truth is Harris with the support of the Democratic machine will obliterate anyone they run in a Democratic primary.

The Democratic Party must bring Sanders’ people to the table for their own survival. By berating them in the press, party sets itself up for a repeat of 2016.

If they stay home or vote third party, Democrats will lose or at the very least make the 2020 election far closer than it needs to be.

Kamala Harris is a good politician with progressive values and the tools and appeal to win. I disagree with her in one major area. We should seek ideological purity and give those who run “ideological purity tests.”

People will no longer feel forced to vote for someone they have fundamental disagreements with, nor someone with a long checkered political record. When giving any test, no one scores 100 percent, if so your examination lacked rigor.

However, we should award our votes to the candidate who scores the highest, regardless of what the party or press says we should do.

Jason Nichols is a full-time faculty member in the African American Studies Department at the University of Maryland College Park. His writing has appeared in the Baltimore Sun.


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