Harris’ appeals to the “Obama Coalition” and diversity were nothing but attempts to win over the Black vote while remaining loyal to the oligarchs.
“Diversity does nothing to fundamentally change the white supremacist character of the Democratic Party.”
Kamala Harris’ departure from the 2020 election drew cheers from many on the left who had associated the California senator with the most heinous policies of the mass Black incarceration state. Others close to Harris’ campaign, including Harris herself, attributed her lack of financial and political success in the 2020 primary race to the United States not being ready for a Black woman as president. Forgotten was the fact that Harris’ campaign was stocked full of billionaire donors in the earliest stages of the election. Kamala Harris was at one time the darling of the elite and an odds-on favorite to win the hearts and minds of Black American voters. Her fall from grace is a sign that the Democratic Party has a far graver race problem than what her failed campaign has let on.
The Democratic Party’s race problem is not a matter of whether voters in the most racist nation in human history were ready for a Black woman in the Oval Office. Black American voters were very much ready for a Black president in 2008 when Barack Obama was elected in one of the most successful electoral campaigns in Democratic Party history. Obama’s election, however, did not make the Democratic Party any less of a white supremacist or imperialist organ of the ruling class. In fact, Obama used his two terms to publicly shame Black Americans as culturally inferior to white Americans whenever he got the chance. Furthermore, unlike Harris, Obama used his immense talent to manipulate attacks from the white supremacist political right to the ruling class’ political advantage. Obama peddled a narrative of compromise and bipartisanship that deflected blame away from his administration for the massive transfer of wealth to the one percent and the facilitation of harsh austerity and militarized policing measures that made life demonstrably worse for Black America.
“Harris’ fall from grace is a sign that the Democratic Party has a far graver race problem than what her failed campaign has let on.”
Harris attempted to recreate the Obama model of electoral success. She began her campaign with a 20,000 plus showing in Oakland under the banner of “For the People.” But her political momentum wouldn't last long. In a matter of months, Harris was polling behind Andrew Yang in her own state of California. During the last primary debate, Harris desperately repeated the words “Obama coalition” to remind Black Americans and the rest of the Democratic Party base of why she should remain a presidential candidate for another day. It was to no avail. By this time, ruling class donors unsure about Biden’s viability and Harris’ dipping poll numbers had steadily flocked under the cozy tent of Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Kamala Harris’ presidential chances were officially dead.
Kamala Harris’ electoral woes are a positive sign that Democratic Party “civility” is losing legitimacy among Black Americans, who have historically been the most left leaning section of the U.S. population. Whatever racist antagonisms white Americans may have harbored over Harris’ identity as a Black woman were far outweighed by her own complicity in America’s white supremacist and imperialist system. The corporate media would have us forget the immense impact of Tulsi Gabbard’s sixty second review of Harris’ political record in facilitating the suspension of her campaign. Gabbard’s takedown of Harris in the July debate was only strengthened by the Harris campaign’s walk back of criticism against Biden’s history of opposing desegregation and its proposal to implement “Medicare for All”using private Medicare Advantage Plans as the source of expanded coverage. In a matter of weeks, Harris had not only lost legitimacy among many Black voters but also a larger section of the Democratic Party base which has made healthcare its principle concern.
“Harris was polling behind Andrew Yang in her own state of California.”
African revolutionary and scholar Frantz Fanon warned us of the likes of Kamala Harris in his seminal work, The Wretched of the Earth.At the time of Fanon’s writing, European colonialism was in a struggle to the death to maintain its colonies from the emancipatory aspirations of national liberation movements across the African continent. Fanon placed a great deal of emphasis on the development of the national bourgeoisie in the African independence struggle. According to Fanon:
“The national bourgeoisie discovers its historical mission as intermediary. As we have seen, its vocation is not to transform the nation but prosaically serve as a conveyor belt for capitalism, forced to camouflage itself behind the mask of neocolonialism. The national bourgeoisie, with no misgivings and with great pride, revels in the role of agent in its dealings with the Western bourgeoisie. This lucrative role, this function as small-time racketeer, this narrow-mindedness and lack of ambition are symptomatic of the incapacity of the national bourgeoisie to fulfill its historic role as bourgeoisie.”
The Democratic Party has spent the last five decades integrating its ranks in order to strangle the strivings for liberation that emerged from the occupied ghettos and streets of Black America in the 1960s and 1970s. Kamala Harris and the rest of the U.S.’ national bourgeoisie, what Black Agenda Report has called the Black misleadership class, possesses a special contempt for Black America. In her dealings with the big bourgeoisie, Harris has acted as the top cop of mass incarceration. She received donations to her Senate campaign from the likes of Steve Mnuchin for her “innovative” approaches to the criminalization of Black Americans. Harris’ appeals to the “Obama Coalition” and diversity were nothing but attempts to win over the Black vote while remaining loyal to the oligarchs that control the Democratic Party—a balance that Barack Obama struck so well for eight years.
“Harris possesses a special contempt for Black America.”
As Roberto Sirvent and I concluded in our book, more and more people are realizing that diversity does nothing to fundamentally change the white supremacist character of the Democratic Party. Thus, the Democratic Party’s race problem extends beyond Harris’ failure. The 2020 election cycle is an anti-Black political affair. Wall Street’s new favorite candidate Pete Buttigieg is polling at 0 percentapproval with Black voters and for good reason. Buttigieg has time and time again shown his disdain for Black America, whether by telling a Black woman in South Bend he didn’t need her vote when she questioned him on his support for racist policing or by faking Black political support in South Carolina. Joe Biden is the co-author of nearly every piece of legislation behind the mass Black incarceration state, including the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act and the 1994 Crime Bill. While not sporting the same lengthy record as Biden, Elizabeth Warren posed as an indigenous person to win a prominent tenure position at Harvard Law School and has shown that she is malleable enough to serve the interests of the white corporate oligarchy in charge of the Democratic Party.
Bernie Sanders has maintained a class-first approach to round two of his “democratic socialist” campaign but has managed to inspire young Black Americans to dump the likes of Kamala Harris and Cory Booker in favor of universal healthcare, education, and housing. This is a positive development and a direct challenge to the pro-austerity posture of the Black misleadership class. White corporate elites at the head of the DNC have made their fear of Black Americans abandoning the sinking Democratic Party ship well known. The 2020 DNC convention is being held in Milwaukee, the same city where Hillary Clinton was notoriously rejected by Black American voters as a pawn of corporate power. Barack Obama has made his presence felt very early in the 2020 by taking every opportunity to warn younger voters of the dangers of veering too far left from the Democratic Party establishment.
“Buttigieg has time and time again shown his disdain for Black America.”
Obama has every right to worry about the future political behavior of Black America. The Democratic Party’s race problem is a real threat to the preservation of the U.S. imperial order. Black Americans have for decades understood that the Republican Party is the White Man’s Party. Absent of an independent Black left, Black Americans in the main have held their noses and voted for the Democratic Party to prevent Republican Party presidential victories. But the Democratic Party has dutifully taken orders from Wall Street and the war machine. White supremacy is its guiding logic. It was only a matter of time before the forty-plus year Race to the Bottom and the centuries long racist war on Black America would converge to spur a crisis of legitimacy in Washington.
The Democratic Party is principally responsible for the crisis, which culminated in the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential election. Bernie Sanders’ meteoric rise in popularity was predicated upon his willingness to challenge the American exceptionalist ethos that presumed neoliberal capitalism to be the most effective means of economic governance worldwide. Democratic Party elites have fiercely defended the racist logic of neoliberal capitalism and have made life more insufferable for key sections of its captive base in the process. Democratic administrations are just as much to blame for the end of welfare, the near end of public education, and the rise of mass Black incarceration as their Republican counterparts. Since as far back as the 1960s, the Democratic Party has operated as the most effective branch of the War Party by finding more covert, yet no less bloody, methods from which to devastate and annihilate humanity. Black Americans and other oppressed people owe nothing to the Democratic Party. The demise of Kamala Harris and the rest of the Democratic Party establishment brass should be celebrated. But don’t celebrate too long. There is a world to win, and the ruling class’ duopoly system won’t let up its white supremacist and imperialist grip on power unless met by the organized wrath of the people.
Danny Haiphong is an activist and journalist in the New York City area. He and Roberto Sirvent are co-authors of the book entitled American Exceptionalism and American Innocence : A People’s History of Fake News--From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror (Skyhorse Publishing). He can be reached at [email protected], on Twitter @spiritofho , and on Youtube at The Left Lens with Danny Haiphong.
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