December 2, 2018; Washington Post
Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) says she’s seriously considering a run for the White House in 2020, and that she would be ready for things to get “ugly” because boundaries would get broken, and, as Harris says, “When you break things, it is painful. And you get cut. And you bleed.”
Harris said in an October interview with the Washington Post that she sees the phrase “identity politics” used as a pejorative, and that needs to be re-narrated. Race, she said, is an unavoidable part of the country’s political debate in the Trump era, but it also can be a unifier.
“So, I have a theory,” she says. “It’s a crude, rough kind of theory, but I have a theory about what was going on in terms of who we are as a country that…partially led to the outcome [in 2016], and it is if you think about the last 10 years in our country, we have experienced an incredible amount of change.”
She mentions the Great Recession of 2008, homes lost and job opportunities downsized. She talks about the browning of America and the influx of immigrants, and a woman running for president and a president named Barack Hussein Obama. “There’s so much happening just in these last 10 years,” she says, “and it has rightly left a lot of people feeling quite displaced, wondering are they relevant, are they obsolete, where do they fit in?”
Sign up for our free newsletters
Subscribe to NPQ's newsletters to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.
Trump, she continues, understood that those fears were legitimate and real: “He read it accurately and then took it to the lowest common denominator and said, ‘And therefore it’s us versus them,’ instead of what really leadership should be about, which is saying, ‘Hey, I’m with you, we’re all in it together.’”
One theme of her speeches is that Democrats must “paint a picture of the future in which everyone can see themselves.”
Referring to Russian interference in the 2016 elections, she says they tested issues to determine what would produce the most discord and heat. “And guess what the one was? It was about hate. It was about racism. It was about sexism. It was about anti-Semitism. It was about homophobia. That’s what attracted heat. So, isn’t that an interesting thing that one of our longest adversaries, the Russian government, figured out America’s Achilles’ heel? One of the biggest ones is race, and they attacked us based on that. And we’re not going to talk about it?”
She says that the time is past for avoiding and downplaying the topic: “I’m not going to contrast myself to an election that happened over 10 years ago…I’ll speak to this moment. Yeah, we have to talk about this. We have to.”
Harris is one of many now considering bids for the White House, of course. Among the others are Democratic senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and Cory Booker of New Jersey; former vice president Joe Biden; and billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer.—Ruth McCambridge